Despite the 2-1 losses in both the T20I and ODI series, Kane Williamson firmly believes that New Zealand have enhanced their reputation by remaining competitive in testing conditions. The Kiwi skipper was effusive in his praise for Colin Munro, who made the most of his promotion to the opening spot.
After stepping on Indian soil, New Zealand projected themselves as a team to beat, bringing out their A-game in almost all the six matches that they played. However, despite taking both the series to a decider, the Kiwis eventually fell short at the last hurdle. Despite the T20I series loss, Williamson was content with his team's performances and stated that his side had done themselves proud by showcasing their best of the abilities in trying conditions.
“I thought in both of them [deciders], we were very good, just not quite good enough. That’s the challenge; both of them came down to the last couple of balls and when that is the case, there are such small margins that we look to make those improvements," Williamson said after the third T20I loss to India, reported The Indian Express.
“But on a whole, as a unit, we are constantly trying to improve and get better. And I think we have seen that throughout the series. But there’s still a way to go to where we want to be. We’ve shown some really good signs, like I said such a fine line, especially in white-ball cricket and we saw that throughout the series.
“It was a really tough-fought series, both teams played really good competitive cricket and for a lot of games to come down to the last three balls makes for good watching but a shame to be on the wrong side.”
The third T20I in Thiruvananthapuram, yesterday, was almost ruined by incessant rains, but some excellent work by the ground staff ensured an eight-over match could be completed as a series decider. That also meant batsman had no time to get their eye in, and with the covers on for a long time, the surface had dampness which made the shot-making a bit difficult.
“I suppose when the game is that short, to try and get a read on the surface is quite tough. You’re trying to generate a strike-rate straightaway and it was a tricky surface so to get eight an over on that from India’s perspective was a good effort. We knew it was going to be tough and we got very close, just a shame we couldn’t get across the line," he added.
“The guys coming out were essentially playing death in terms of their batting from ball one. So it was more to do with the surface and what we wanted to finish with today but it’s something different because you don’t experience it too much, you get 20 overs each and this is something different. You have to think on your feet.”
After restricting India to a paltry 67 for 5 in 8 overs, New Zealand had their chances, but with India bowling with precision and the pitch continuing to pose a huge challenge, the run chase became a tough ask for the visitors.
“You need to play smart cricket because there is still a lot of balls that you need to score off and when you get a couple of boundaries away, it goes a long way to chase that total down. But it was a very tricky surface and for it to be so close, I guess we go back to how we want to execute.
“When it’s eight overs, they’re kind of on the defensive because batsmen are coming out so aggressively. And the nature of the surface, it was taking so much turn. All bowlers were a threat out there and I suppose batsmen were trying their best trying to generate a strike-rate.
Williamson was all praise for the newly promoted opening batsman Colin Munro, who made the most of his opportunities to give New Zealand a slice of hope going forward. His 75-ball 62 in the final ODI was critical in getting New Zealand close, while his 58-ball unbeaten 109 in the second T20I in Rajkot led his side to a series-leveling win.
“There were some key contributions throughout. Colin Munro in the second game was outstanding. The bowlers, the spinners, in particular, were very good. Collectively, the guys went about their business really well.
“The batting unit has a really nice balance to it. They are just trying to adapt and read the game the best they can and the bowlers are adapting well too,” the Kiwi skipper concluded.