HYDERABAD: A quirk of fate had propelled Kane Williamson to the captaincy of the Sunrisers Hyderabad team but the New Zealand skipper took to the role as a fish takes to the water. The David Warner blow was supposed to derail the SRH plans but Williamson showed that he is an able replacement and his exploits have made the fans forget the loss of the Australian for the time being at least.
Williamson is the only foreigner to captain an IPL team this season and he has in fact put to shade some of the other best in the business like Virat Kohli. While the Indian has struggled to get his team going, the New Zealander has been inspirational and his calm presence of mind has instilled a sense of confidence in his teammates. Eight wins out of 10 games has turned the Sunrisers into favourites for the title and Williamson has played a major role in that.
In the process of his match-winning 56 on Monday night, Williamson (410 runs at 51.25 average) became the first captain to amass more than 400 runs this season. He is also the first batsman to hit five half-centuries this year.
What makes his exploits great is the fact that he wouldn’t have been a first choice in the playing XI if Warner was available. Williamson had warmed the benches for most part of last season and would have suffered the same fate if not for Warner’s indiscretion in South Africa.
Did the mantle of captaincy bring about a change in his approach to the game? “It’s a very difficult question. I think I am the same person (Kane). As a player you go out and contribute to the team as best as you can and fill the role you are given. It is the focus for all the players,” he said.
Kane and his able men have made it a habit of defending low scores. They have batted first four times and trumped their opponents on all occasions. Is there a secret behind it? “I think it was another varied surface and we were certainly targeting about the 150s and we were not far away from that. The game was very close. At times we were struggling a bit with the bat then we looked like getting 150 or 160 but we ended up with 140 odd but we were certainly in the game at the half-way point.
“With the bowling too it was a bit similar. We sort of took wickets and stemmed the flow of runs and then they built little partnerships. If we maintained our usual standards in the field we could have operated a little better but it is something that we can build on going into the next game. But at the end of the day it was really nice to fight hard on the field and come away with a win,” he said.
The middle-order muddle remains an unresolved puzzle for SRH. Is it a cause of worry? “It is really important that as batters we look to go out and play with that freedom. We have played on surfaces that’s been very difficult to do especially to come in towards the end and do it from ball one. That is most required so it’s really important that we play as smart cricket as we can but it is also important to get as many runs as we can. It is not a lack of effort and it’s such a small margin as we were targeting 150 and we were maybe five runs short. Moving forward we are off to Delhi now and that will be another different surface and it’s important that we adapt and prepare for whatever lies ahead,” the skipper added.