Kane Williamson all praise for ‘class act’ Rachin Ravindra – ‘His temperament speaks volumes’


New Zealand have called all the shots so far in the Mount Maunganui Test, and go into day three with a lead of 431 to boot. However, the captain Kane Williamson is not getting carried away just yet, and has called on his team to “maintain their discipline and play the long game” as they look to go 1-0 up against South Africa.

Williamson himself contributed 118 to New Zealand’s cause, but it was his “outstanding” team-mate Rachin Ravindra who stole most of the headlines with a fluent 241. Speaking after the first day’s play, Ravindra did not hold back in his praise for his “idol” Williamson, and on Monday, the roles were reversed, as it was the New Zealand captain’s turn to laud the 24-year-old.

“Ravindra is simply a class act to watch from the other end,” Williamson said. “One of his biggest strengths is being very calm. He’s clearly got the skills and the game as we’ve seen in ODIs, but to go through the gears here, in such a calm temperament, speaks volumes. Their bowlers weren’t giving much away, so we had to keep each other focused.

“We did a lot of groundwork and South Africa were extremely disciplined with the ball. It was quite difficult to use the pace on the surface, so we just wanted to up the run rate from a position of strength. I wasn’t able to, which was frustrating, but other guys came in and went through the gears in the middle session.

“Ravindra has looked very good at No. 4. He is a great stroke-maker, can play all shots and go through the gears. That’s his style. He made the most of the opportunity. He’s quite natural and is loving every moment. From a team’s perspective, we’re loving his attitude to move us forward.

“It was an outstanding innings and a special moment for him, but the milestone alone wasn’t enough. You can see he also wanted to put the team in a strong position.”

After amassing 511, New Zealand then made further inroads by rattling South Africa’s top order, reducing the visitors to 80 for 4. Williamson believes that with the pitch deteriorating and wind possibly coming into play later on, it is essential that his bowlers be “mindful” with their plans.

“Throughout today, and the last part of yesterday, both teams were trying to just hang in there. There was little bit on offer which made it hard to hit through the line, so it was all about just trying to stay with your plans and not lose patience. We had our moments. We were trying to understand where we want to be as a team and took risks when needed to. We gave ourselves the opportunity. Now we need to be mindful with the ball, be disciplined and play the long game, and see how the game unfolds.

“We’re in a relatively strong position, but it’ll be hard, South Africa bat deep, the pitch will deteriorate, so let’s see.”

Brand rues missed chances

South Africa, too, are not waving the white flag just yet. Their captain Neil Brand, who finished with six wickets, is confident that “one big partnership” is all that they need to get right back into the game.

“It’s been a tough grind today, but we didn’t expect anything less,” he said. “New Zealand played well, but we also gave away a few chances which didn’t help. But we can still do something very much special here.

“There wasn’t much of a chat on how we wanted to bat. I told everyone to play their natural games. There were a few strange dismissals, and ideally you don’t want to be two or three wickets down so soon. But these things happen. We have two great batters in David Bedingham and Keegan Petersen at the crease, and anything can happen.”


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