‘Pure batting bliss’ – Ravindra lauds his ‘unbelievable’ idol Williamson

South Africa

Rachin Ravindra was all of 10 years old when Kane Williamson made his international debut, back in 2010. Ravindra grew up idolising the New Zealand batter over the years, and so on Sunday, he was visibly moved when it was Williamson’s turn to heap lavish praise upon the 24-year-old.

“After I got to my century, Kane come up to me and said, ‘mate, you’re unbelievable’. It’s so surreal. To be receiving that kind of special praise from one of the best batters in the world. It’s the coolest thing I’ve been a part of.”

Ravindra spoke after he and Williamson had left New Zealand in a position of strength against South Africa, with the hosts well set at 258 for 2. Both batters raised centuries as part of an unbroken 219-run stand, and the special nature of the occasion was not lost on Ravindra.

“Playing alongside Kane is always very special,” he said. “Sharing the crease with someone I idolise so much, life has come full circle for me. It’s a real ‘pinch-me’ moment. Seeing him go about his business as usual, with his calmness and timing, and the positions he gets himself into, it was pure batting bliss. As a lover of New Zealand cricket, seeing him still score Test hundreds is unbelievable.

“You saw it at the World Cup as well. It shows the pure resilience of the man, coming out of all those injuries and setbacks as an even better cricketer. You can see it in his character, work ethic, and the way he gives back to the team. Many guys who’ve played 15 years of international cricket, they might not have come back like Kane did. He’s unbelievable, just a model personality to have around. “

On his part, Ravindra stroked a maiden Test hundred – 118 off 211 balls, with 13 fours and a six – continuing his evolution as an all-format cricketer. How important was the knock to him in that context?

“I don’t read into all that,” he said. “It’s natural that people expect more from you once you have a decent couple of games. I just try to contribute my best to the team. You want to play as much as possible, but it all comes down to the team. The environment draws everything forward.

“The way I batted was my natural way of scoring. On that surface, I had to be a little more selective in choosing the balls to score off. Kane was doing well at the other end, so being able to lean on him in the partnership was great.

“I’ve grown up loving ODIs, as you need to have the ability to be patient, while also putting pressure on the bowler, hitting big when need be. However, Test cricket is sort of the pinnacle now. Getting a hard-fought win after five days, that feeling is tough to match.

“This is just a natural progression of my skillsets, and my mental side as a cricketer. With more experience, I’m able to understand myself better.”

Moreki: ‘We need to play more of old-fashioned Test cricket’

South Africa and debutant Tshepo Moreki didn’t have nearly as productive a day. Despite snaring two early wickets, South Africa were left frustrated for the majority of the day, as they toiled hard without any reward.

“We had a flying start, but knew it’d be difficult,” Moreki said, after finishing the day with 1 for 81. “It’s a wicket with very little pace in it, so you have to create the pressure yourself. We did that early on, forcing Williamson to come out and play over covers. We need to play more of that old-fashioned Test cricket.

“We created some pressure, our lines and lengths were good. But once they got in and got a hang of the pace of the wicket, coupled with the softness of the ball, it became easier for them. We’d have liked a couple more wickets, but it wasn’t to be, as we put some tough-ish chances down.

“Day two will be easier for us emotionally. We know we’re in the game now. If we can get the run-rate down to 2.5 or 2.6, we can put some pressure on them. We just have to come back here and go all over again.”

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