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Cricket: NZ fortunes rest on Kane Williamson

The numbers suggest New Zealand's chances of winning hinge on Kane Williamson's successes and failures. Photo / AP
The numbers suggest New Zealand's chances of winning hinge on Kane Williamson's successes and failures. Photo / AP

Those seeking a "stat of the day" will note when Kane Williamson has scored more than 76 in a one-day international, New Zealand have won 76 per cent of their matches.*

Conversely, of the 31 occasions in 89 ODI innings when he's scored less than 20, the Black Caps' winning percentage drops to 48.

Effectively, New Zealand's chances of winning hinge on Williamson's successes and failures. That is an unhealthy premise if the 2015 World Cup finalists want to continue as an ODI powerhouse.

The remainder of the top order need to deliver more consistently if results are to be based on more complex variables than how the prodigious No3 fares at the crease.

Tom Latham has provided the necessary support in India with ODI scores of 79 not out and 46 to reinforce his test form, but the remainder of the top order - Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi - must make improvements if New Zealand are to secure their first ODI series win in India on their fifth attempt.

They lost the 1995-96 and 19992000 series 3-2.

Williamson's 118 from 128 balls in Delhi was the difference between the teams in New Zealand's six-run victory in the second ODI, their first win of the tour. After suffering a viral illness during the test series, Williamson still appears to be on the comeback trail.

His arms went so numb late in the innings that 12th man Jimmy Neesham had to hydrate the parched skipper as if he was manning a yardie. With his right wrist going on strike, all Williamson could do was glug as he replaced the lost electrolytes and kept toiling.

With an ODI average of 48.90 and strike rate of 86 from 36 away innings, Williamson is ranked ninth in history for batsmen who have played more than 20 innings away from home. South Africa's AB de Villiers is on top with a 60.26 average at a run a ball from 68 innings.

Expect New Zealand to bat first at Mohali tonight in the third ODI if they call the toss correctly in India for the first time in seven attempts (including the practice game).

The temptation is to field and let the opposition grapple with a slippery ball caused by the evening dew. But in New Zealand's three ODI outings at the venue - including two at this time of year - the team batting first have won. In their World T20 match against Pakistan in March, the Black Caps won the toss and the match after batting first.

A deceptive grass canopy often covers a wicket that allows batsmen to play their shots early with the good bounce and carry. Pace attacks have tended to prosper, the most notable example being at the 2006 Champions Trophy when Shane Bond, Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram took seven wickets between them against Pakistan to advance New Zealand to the semifinals.

However, they may have benefitted from the International Cricket Council agreeing to spray a chemical, APSA-80, over the outfield to reduce the dew. The theory was that the resulting film on the pitch ended up aiding bowlers.

Of the 22 ODIs played at the venue, 14 have been won by the side batting first, although that must be tempered by the chasing side winning the past three.

- *Thanks, Cricinfo Statsguru

- Herald on Sunday

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