'Genius' Williamson drives NZ World Cup charge

Kane Williamson (AP)
Kane Williamson (AP)

Manchester - New Zealand captain Kane Williamson underlined his status as one of the World Cup's most feared batsmen with his highest ever ODI score of 148 against the West Indies on Saturday.

Williamson's match-winning knock against the West Indies was his second successive World Cup century as he dominated with some elegant stroke-play.

Williamson hit 14 fours and a six during a composed 154-ball innings at Old Trafford, guiding the Kiwis to 291 for eight after they were two wickets down in the first over.

But New Zealand had to withstand a blistering 101 from West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, who was caught on the boundary going for the winning six, before Williamson could finally relax.

"We have been able to adjust according to the conditions," Williamson said after receiving the man-of-the-match award following the five-run victory.

"I wanted to be clear in my mind, wanted to play according to the merit of the ball, make the best possible decisions and play according to the situation of the game."

Williamson took off his helmet and raised his bat after completing his 13th ODI hundred as the crowd stood to applaud the master batsman and pundits took note.

"Kane Williamson is a genius! His last 2 one day innings are right up there with the best," former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter.

Williamson, who scored an unbeaten 106 in New Zealand's dramatic win against South Africa on Wednesday, once again held the fort after the team had slipped to seven for two in the first over.

He put on 160 for the third wicket with Ross Taylor to slowly turn the momentum back in his side's favour.

Williamson took his time to get going but once he did, he unfurled a flurry of cuts, sweeps, drives and deft flicks.

The skipper, who averages over 47 in 144 ODI matches, got to his ton with a pull off paceman Kemar Roach that zipped into the fine leg boundary ropes for four.

His sublime performance finally came to end after he attempted to heave a good-length delivery from Sheldon Cottrel only to get a top edge through to wicketkeeper Shai Hope.

Surpassing his previous ODI best of 145 against South Africa in 2013, Williamson has now scored 373 runs in four innings in this World Cup at an average of 186.5.

Williamson is one of the few batsman to have busted the power-hitting myth in the age of Twenty20 by maintaining a strike-rate of 82.18.

Former Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori recently labelled Williamson "New Zealand's greatest ODI player of all time" after his compatriot's measured century at Edgbaston.

Williamson is only the third World Cup captain after Australia's Ricky Ponting (in 2003-2007) and Zimbabwe's Brendan Taylor (in 2015) to register back to back centuries.

His latest work of art cemented Williamson as one of the World Cup's most influential batsman along with India's Virat Kohli, Joe Root of England and Australia's Steve Smith.

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