From Tests to T20s, Williamson masters his own range

Swann: Williamson now seems like a complete player (1:31)

Graeme Swann on how Kane Williamson stepped up with 81 off 42 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore (1:31)

All Star of the Match

What makes Kane Williamson a world-class Test batsman? Among other characteristics, he plays the ball late, with hands close to his body. What makes him a terrific ODI batsman? Those Test traits, along with the ability to find gaps through the field. Now, remember, he doesn't really rely on power. So how does he translate his skillset into T20 efficiency?

Like effective companies, the best players have the ability to innovate while still relying on their strengths. In T20s, Williamson has acquired two crucial assets: an improvised lap-scoop and a lofted shot that generates sufficient power through his wrists and hand-speed through the line of the ball.

Against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Williamson opened his innings with a wristy flick through midwicket. As his innings progressed, his range expanded to display his newly-acquired T20 skills. He hit five sixes, all in the midwicket region, using his wrists to loft flicks over the M Chinnaswamy Stadium's short boundaries.

Williamson also relied on his strengths: playing the ball late to beat point on either side, pulls into gaps at square leg, and sweetly-timed drives. Eventually, he finished with 81 off 42 balls, at a strike rate of 192.85, and gave Sunrisers Hyderabad a fair chance of hunting down a mammoth target.

The wow moment

Playing with the turn is always the safe option against wristspinners. But when Williamson walked out, Sunrisers needed to take frequent calculated risks. Against Yuzvendra Chahal, Williamson played his first ball with the spin to cover. It yielded no run, and with a soaring required rate, there was no room for safety.

Off his next ball, he took a large stride forward to meet the ball as it pitched, got there, and then worked the ball 90 degrees the other way, into the gap between midwicket and mid-on. For Williamson, there was no risk in playing that shot against the turn.

The numbers

  • It was Williamson's eighth fifty this season. Only Virat Kohli (11) and David Warner (9), both in 2016, have made more fifty-plus scores in an IPL season.

  • Williamson scored 50 of his 81 runs (61.8%) through midwicket.

  • Williamson faced just eight balls in the five overs prior to his dismissal.

What they said

"When you're chasing a total like that, you need to make right decisions. At key times in the chase, we didn't."
Kane Williamson in the post-match interview

"T20 cricket isn't just about power, it's also about being smart and playing to your strengths and Williamson is doing exactly that."
Rohit Sharma on Twitter