‘It feels surreal’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:35 AM, January 01, 2021

‘It feels surreal’

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has surged ahead of Steve Smith and Virat Kohli to seize the top spot for batsmen in the MRF Tyres ICC Men's Test Player Rankings after his player of the match effort in the first Test against Pakistan in Tauranga.

Willamson had briefly occupied the top spot towards the end of 2015 but either Smith or Kohli have been number one since then. This year too, Smith was at the top for 313 days and Kohli for 51, before Williamson surged ahead of his two contemporaries from the ICC Under-19 Men's Cricket World Cup 2008.

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Williamson was characteristically humble when speaking of the double honour, passing on credit to the players he has both followed and led in his time with the team.

"It feels surreal to be on there. However, I believe that it's a bit of a team reward to be honest ... it wouldn't mean much without the contributions and the efforts from all the other players that you play alongside for such a long period of time that give you the motivation and drive to want to try and move the teams forward that you're involved in," Williamson told the New Zealand Herald.

"There's also so many people along the way that have gone into trying to help me as a player and as a person and I want to thank all of them."

On overtaking the likes of Kohli and Smith, - which comes the same week he was named by the ICC to its test "Team of the Decade", Williamson was once again coy, suggesting his new ranking was loaded with some luck.

"For me to sneak up, perhaps, in some way is very surprising and humbling but at the same time I think there's other rankings somewhere that quite clearly state the successes of these other two. Year in and year out those two players, in all formats, are moving the game forward."

Williamson, who returned from paternity leave this month, hit a match-winning century in the opening test against Pakistan to help New Zealand win by 101 runs at Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.

Since making his debut for New Zealand in November 2010, Williamson has amassed one of the finest test records of any Black Cap; scoring 23 centuries at an average of 52.90 in 82 matches - 34 of those as captain.

Smith is in the middle of a rare slump in form and dropped behind Kohli after registering four single-digit scores at the halfway stage of the ongoing four-Test series against India.

Kohli, who topscored for India in their eight-wicket thrashing by Australia in the series opener in Adelaide, has returned home for the birth of his first child.

However, Black Caps fans will be well aware of the cold, hard facts behind Williamson's rise to the top and will no doubt be backing him as he attempts to lead New Zealand to the top of the team rankings next week; where a second win over Pakistan will take them there for the first time. Australia's Pat Cummins remains the top-ranked test bowler, while compatriot Mitchell Starc jumped two places to enter the top five.

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