By John Mehaffey
Kane Williamson, well on course to become New Zealand’s finest ever batsman, demonstrated again his extraordinary composure under pressure by hitting a six to win Saturday’s World Cup Pool A match against Australia.
With Mitchell Starc swinging the ball at high pace to scythe through the New Zealand batting and last man Trent Boult at the crease, Williamson decided to take matters into his own hands.
The first ball of Pat Cummins’ next over was full and Williamson stepped calmly forward and struck the ball cleanly over the bowler’s head and across the long-on boundary to give New Zealand a one-wicket win at Eden Park.
“I was looking to hit a boundary,” Williamson told a news conference.
“It was important to get across the line. I thought it was going to be a bit shorter. Australia made it very tough for us
Williamson and Corey Anderson (26) appeared to have made the game safe for New Zealand, who were chasing a modest Australia total of 151, when they took their team to 131 for four after wickets had fallen just before and just after the dinner break.
But a poor shot from Anderson, who slogged off-spinner Glen Maxwell straight to Cummins at mid-on, sparked a New Zealand collapse against Starc’s lively left-arm swing.
Wickets fell swiftly and when Adams Milne and Tim Southee were bowled for ducks, Starc was on a hat-trick for the second time in the match with the last pair at the crease.
After a mid-wicket conference, Boult defended the fifth ball of the over carefully and left the last. It was then that Williamson decided to take matters into his own hands with the match-winning six.
Williamson, who finished unbeaten on 45, praised Boult, who was chosen as the man-of-the-match following his first five-wicket haul in a one-day international after Australia had threatened to take the game away from the New Zealanders.
“Trent showed that nerve,” he said. “He kept those two balls out.”
“A lot of confidence is gathered from that,” added Boult. “I was pretty pumped and it was something pretty special. The most satisfying is doing it against the best side in the world.”