Coming up clutch: Williamson the king of fourth innings chases

Kane Williamson, remember the name.

Once again New Zealand's premier batsman has anchored a fourth innings run chase and once again, he's got the Black Caps over the line.

In a Test match finish for the ages — seemingly becoming a theme this summer — Williamson scampered through for a bye off the final ball of the game to see his side beat Sri Lanka by two wickets.

By the numbers

Williamson finished on 121 not out, his 27th Test century, and his fourth in fourth innings chases, three of which led to Black Caps victories.

He now has the joint second-most centuries in the fourth innings, alongside Ricky Ponting, Graeme Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Sunil Gavaskar. Younis Khan leads the way with five.

Only Smith has more centuries in a winning cause.

Impressively, Williamson has never been dismissed when scoring a century in a fourth innings run chase.

He also averages 55.31 in the fourth innings, the fourth best in history out of players who have scored at least 750 runs in the fourth innings.

Williamson's clutch Test innings

Kane Williamson versus South Africa in 2012.

102no v South Africa, Wellington 2012

A true coming-of-age moment for the heralded young star. Up against the most fearsome bowling attack in a generation, a fresh-faced 21-year-old Williamson fought and fought and fought throughout the final day to save the game and secure a draw.

South Africa declared early on day five, setting New Zealand an impossible 389 for victory. Williamson was thrown right into the fire, walking out to bat with his side one for two after five overs, having lost both Daniel Flynn and Brendon McCullum for ducks.

There was plenty of pain early on too. A 140km/h rocket from Dale Steyn broke Williamson's box, leaving him writhing in agony.

"I'm not going to apologise," a fired-up Steyn told Williamson.

Kane Williamson calls for a new box after being hit by Dale Steyn.

Meanwhile, Morne Morkel continued to run through the Black Caps top order, leaving the home side reeling at 83 for five with 45 overs still to bat.

Williamson proved to be his side's last hope and he eventually saved the game for his country, bringing up his second Test century in the process. He finished on 102 not out in a score of 200 for six.

Kane Williamson walks off the field after winning the match against Sri Lanka at Seddon Park.

108no v Sri Lanka, Hamilton 2015

A low-scoring Test match, only three players passed 50 in the first three innings, and a chase of 189 seemed tricky given the Black Caps bowlers had steamrolled Sri Lanka for 133 in their second innings.

Early signs looked like that would be the case as New Zealand lost Tom Latham and Martin Guptill within the opening five overs.

Williamson steadied the ship and found support in Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum, combining for half-century partnerships with both. Despite their dismissals, quickly followed by Mitchell Santner, Williamson remained calm and got New Zealand home, finishing not out on 108.

Kane Williamson against Bangladesh at the Basin Reserve in 2017.

104no v Bangladesh, Wellington 2017

Both teams piled on the runs in the first innings, before Bangladesh batted all the way through until after lunch on the final day.

Set 217 to win in a session and a half, both Black Caps openers fell cheaply before Williamson and Taylor took it to the Bangladesh bowlers.

Williamson reached his half century off just 43 balls, before racing to his century off just 89 deliveries, and scoring the winning run off the next ball.

This picture will surely go down as one of the iconic New Zealand sport photographs.

52no v India, Southampton 2021

A crucial knock to calm the nerves of Black Caps fans the world over as New Zealand eased to the World Test Championship title on the sixth day of the final in Southampton.

The Test had been a nailbiter throughout and culminated with New Zealand requiring 139 runs in the final session and a half to win the trophy.

Tensions rose after Ravi Ashwin dismissed both openers cheaply, but it was the reliable duo of Williamson and Taylor that combined to see New Zealand home for a historic victory.

Kane Williamson raises his bat after scoring a century against Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval.

121no v Sri Lanka, Christchurch 2023

Talk about timing the chase to perfection. Rain on the final morning meant New Zealand only had 52 overs to try and get the remaining 257 runs for victory.

For quite some time, Williamson fought for his runs, while also surviving a close LBW call and a dropped catch.

He reached his 50 off 120 deliveries and let Daryl Mitchell do most of the big hitting.

However, he too quietly began ramping up the scoring rate, and brought up his century off 177 balls, scoring his second 50 at just under a run a ball.

There was still plenty to do though. New Zealand needed 32 off the final four overs, and Williamson kept losing partners.

Ones became twos as Williamson looked to keep the strike and with an over remaining in the Test New Zealand needed eight to win.

Two came off the first two balls before Matt Henry was run out going for a second run, leaving Williamson on strike needing five off three with Neil Wagner — nursing a torn hamstring and bulging disc — his running mate at the other end.

Williamson held his nerve, striking a square drive that pierced two men on the rope to take the scores level. While a dot followed, Williamson and Wagner scampered through for a bye to earn New Zealand a thrilling victory.


More Stories