'Pretty special': Kane Williamson hails side's character in historic test

SKY SPORTSomerville gets two in two balls as Pakistan collapse against Black Caps.

Pakistan, set a target of 280 in 79 overs, were all out for 156, giving New Zealand a 2-1 series win after they won the first test then Pakistan levelled the series.

In his post match press conference, Williamson nudged and deflected away questions about his own role in the win, with knocks of 89 and a crucial 139 in the second innings.

Rookie spinner Will Somerville celebrates with team-mates after dismissing Haris Sohail.
FRANCOIS NEL/GETTYRookie spinner Will Somerville celebrates with team-mates after dismissing Haris Sohail.

He shone the light on a superb team performance, hailing the efforts of rookie spinners Will Somerville and Ajaz Patel through the series, the century of Henry Nicholls who scored 126 not out in the second innings, and a stint of rapid scoring by the middle and lower order to put Pakistan under pressure on the last day of the deciding test.

New Zealand showed they were a side of “great character” who stayed in the fight against a formidable side, he said.

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Henry Nicholls celebrates his century in their test match against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi
KAMRAN JEBRELLI/APHenry Nicholls celebrates his century in their test match against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi

 ​”It’s something very special to look back on, to learn a lot from as well – it was not a perfect (series) from either side – in fact Pakistan played something like a perfect game in Dubai … to stay with it from our perspective throughout the three weeks, with some relatively inexperienced players who really stepped up, they were a big part of the side, is something we’ll look back on and be really proud of, and hopefully that helps our progression.”

All in all it was “a pretty special series”, Williamson offered.

“A series victory over Pakistan is a fantastic series to be a part of and obviously to go 1-1 and then have a deciding match like that it goes five days, and both teams are in with a chance of a result on the day, is a pretty special series,” he said.

Will Somerville celebrates another of his seven wickets, this time it's Sarfraz Ahmed.
GETTY IMAGESWill Somerville celebrates another of his seven wickets, this time it’s Sarfraz Ahmed.

He felt Pakistan had played near perfect cricket in winning the second test, and New Zealand had to shut out that loss going into the decider.

“To bounce back, to put out a performance that we’re very much proud of …to go five days, to come away with the win against a very strong side like Pakistan, is a, is great game that guys will remember forever, I’m sure.”

Patel took seven wickets to help seal the first test victory, then Somerville stepped up with 7-127 as Pakistan crumbled at the hands of a 34-year-old who was making his test debut.

Henry Nicholls, left, and Kane Williamson both scored centuries in the second innings.
KAMRAN JEBREILI/APHenry Nicholls, left, and Kane Williamson both scored centuries in the second innings.

While the conditions favoured spin, there was more to it than that, Williamson said.

“To get those rewards you have to bowl a lot of overs and put batsmen under pressure, and a team like Pakistan are very good at playing spin and for those guys to really step up, to show the class they really do have, and make such an impact in this series is a huge hand in us getting across the line to win the series.”

Williamson said the opportunity to claim a series win had prompted his declaration. New Zealand had fought hard through four days, and wanted to convert that effort into pushing on for the series.

“The opportunity for a result was something we definitely relished and going into the evening last night, there were a lot of conversations around what would be a good equation, and we felt that coming into this morning and how positive (we were) – the guys had played us into a strong position, we wanted every chance to win the test match – and it did pay off.”

So how high did this series win rank for him personally?

“I don’t know,” Williamson said, chuckling, deflecting, nudging.

“I don’t look at it, and reflect personally too much, I more look at it in terms of a team perspective and what we were able to do as a collective, everybody chipped in and everybody had a role to play, that would be the best part of it for me.”

And as for having the best second innings average in the world, better than Joe Root, Virat Kohli, better than anyone.

“I didn’t know that, so I’m not sure. Every time you go out to bat you’re trying to contribute for the team, so in the second innings the game is shaped a certain way … it’s just about trying to contribute as well as you can about your side.”

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