Explained: How Williamson negated the threat of left-arm spinner

IPL 2021, SRH vs RR: Williamson indeed is a master of the twos. Since he lets the ball come into his arc, he seems to have a better control of his soft-punches. He punches them with enough power to clear the infield but not rush to the boundary riders.

Perhaps, because he isn’t a big name in left-arm spin yet, Mahipal Lomror vs Kane Williamson doesn’t send the hype machine ringing but there was a nice little contest between the two in Monday’s game between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Was Kane Williamson tested when he arrived at the crease?

Lomror had Wriddhiman Saha stumped with his first delivery, a slow floater. He tried it again next ball to the new batsman Williamson and it nearly did the trick.

Williamson was on the forward stretch but the ball hadn’t arrived yet. A lesser batsman could have still gone for the drive and lifted it straight to extra cover fielder. Some could have pulled out of the intended drive and settled for a defensive stab. Williamson showed his class. He waited on that front foot a touch longer, somehow held his balance, let the ball float into his space, then carved it through cover point for a boundary.

Lomlor tried it again as all said and then, he did have Williamson in a bit of bother. And the slow loopy stuff was perfect for the pitch, too. There was a bit of turn, nothing alarming, and there wasn’t much pace off the track either. Williamson started to push back and punch it through the off side.

What did Lamlor do next?

The suggestion came from the captain Sanju Samson after a ball on the stumps was a touch awkwardly bunted through the on side. “Yahan sey maarne do use (let him hit through this side),” he said pointing to the leg side. The plan was now to bowl on the line of stumps and hope Williamson swipes across the line. Lamlor went for it and looped one in towards the stumps.

But Williamson was ready this time, pressing right back and giving himself a bit of room, and punched the ball for a highly-skilful six over extra cover. Lomlor first glanced at the diminishing trail of the white ball shooting through the sky before whirling around and looking at his captain. Samson had nothing to say, this time.

How did Williamson control the chase from then on?

Since Jason Roy had dragged down the run-rate, Williamson’s work was to ensure wicket’s didn’t fall and he stayed until the end to shepherd the chase. Once, he took out the left-arm spinner, the only possible threat for him on that track, he started to work the angles perfectly for singles and twos.

On air, S Ramesh gushed, “I can understand if Willimson was an Australian who was used to big grounds where twos are a staple. But for someone grown up in New Zealand with their small grounds, to work the angles like this for two’s is quite something.” Words to that effect.

Williamson indeed is a master of the twos. Since he lets the ball come into his arc, he seems to have a better control of his soft-punches. He punches them with enough power to clear the infield but not rush to the boundary riders. By the time deep midwicket or sweeper cover comes around, he has pocketed two runs. He also guided the youngster Abhishek Sharma through, and both started to run Rajasthan ragged without taking any risks.

The first win after five losses, and the second win of the season, was brought up with two successive fours of Mustafizur Rehman in the 19th over. It’s a knock that will be forgotten in a day or two but it was a lovely exhibition of skill, smartness, and match-awareness.

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