Manchester: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was fully aware of the damage Mahendra Singh Dhoni could have inflicted to his team and Martin Guptill’s direct throw from the deep to get the former India captain run-out was the turning point of their World Cup semi-final victory on Wednesday.
Williamson said when Dhoni, who scored 50 off 72 balls, was there, he knew the match could have gone either way in those final overs.
“We all know the game is a fine line in a number of ways. But that run-out was significant. We have seen Dhoni finish games from those similar positions on a number of occasions,” Williamson said after the match.
“It was a tough surface so nothing promised but naturally to dismiss Dhoni in whatever fashion is extremely important, but for a direct hit run-out very similar to Jadeja’s I think was a big moment in the game,” said the Kiwi captain.
According to Williamson, only Guptill was capable of “creating” that kind of a run-out from the deep.
“I mean he (Guptill) is probably the only man on the pitch that could perhaps created that run-out,” he said.
“So contributions can come in so many different ways and I think we have seen on the fielding charts he has been right up there and for him to do that and pull off what was a significant turning point in the match was special,” Williamson said.
Dhoni, who has got a lot of flak for his slow batting, found a supporter in Williamson.
“Yes, experience at this level and in these occasions is so important and his contribution not only today or yesterday but throughout this campaign was extremely important and that partnership that he was involved in with Jadeja,” Williamson said.
He was all praise for Ravindra Jadeja, who made batting on a difficult pitch look easy.
“Jadeja came in and hitting the ball better than anybody in both teams was very, very valuable. In fact, he got some momentum going India’s way,” the Kiwi captain said.
Mitchell Santner’s slow left-arm spin was one of New Zealand’s biggest weapons and Williamson was lavish in his praise.
“It was an outstanding spell from Santner on a surface that, you know, no doubt was offering to the slower bowlers — and we saw that in our innings as well the amount of spin that the Indian spinners got and he (Santner) is a world-class bowler, so we expected he would operate well,” Williamson said.
The soft-spoken New Zealand skipper acknowledged that it was tough for any side to recover from 24 for 4 to which India were reduced to in the 10th over.
“I mean, it’s very hard to know exactly but naturally when you find yourself in that position (24 for 4 and 71 for 5), it’s a great starting point from our perspective in terms of perhaps getting ahead of the game because the rebuilding phase becomes lot more tricky,” he said.
“So, it was a brilliant start for us with the ball and I guess on the other side of that coin, India would not have been as happy with that start.”