Williamson, Latham and the warmth of Kiwis

The New Zealand side, at a special reception in New Delhi, spoke about wickets in India, Kohli-Dhoni partnership and keeping things simple on field.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson (L) with Tom Latham after winning the first ODI in Mumbai.   -  AFP

 

It may have narrowly lost the ODI series but there was no disgrace for the New Zealand cricket team when it arrived here on Monday. The players were on time, at their polite best and easy to talk to at a special reception party, organised by the New Zealand High Commission.

While moderating a panel discussion, former Kiwi pacer Simon Doull raised an important point. “It's a nice thing to hear about this New Zealand side in the last five to six years, the way they are portrayed and seen around the world now. On how nice and good this side is, on field, without going overboard or over the top, and how good it is off the field as well,” he said.

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And while it was more of a business interaction, the focus stayed firmly on the game. Captain Kane Williamson, when asked about his growth in the job in the past 18 months, threw it back to Doull — 'It's up to you really, you are the one who talks about it' he quipped – before explaining further. “As a group, we have grown a lot. Some of the guys have been around for a long time now. It's not just me, all the guys have taken a lot of ownership there,” he said.

With Ross Taylor around as the senior pro in the side, comparisons with Virat Kohli's consultations with M.S. Dhoni inevitably came up and Williamson admitted it was a big help. “It's always a great help to have guys to lean on. I think as a player, if you can ounce a few ideas from the senior players on field, it relaxes you. A part of a team operating well depends on how you handle the people around you,” he added.

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The biggest applause was reserved for Tom Latham who, as Doull suggested, has become the “most talked about player on the tour and the least talked about before coming here”. The opener-wicketkeeper, who was moved to the middle-order during the ODIs, said he relished playing the sweep shot, specially against spin, and admitted being behind the wickets helped him read the conditions well. “We have chased here twice so you get a good read on how the pitch's playing as a wicketkeeper in these conditions with variable bounce. But these are some of the toughest conditions to play,” Latham explained.

Asked about the adjustments in the side between formats, Williamson was clear. “I actually try not to think or tinker too much, I think simplicity is the key. Playing across the country in the IPL should put us in good stead but playing against a quality side like India, hopefully we will go one better than the ODIs,” he said.