• Williamson leads from the front

    New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was measured in his assessment of his side’s performance that all but eliminated South Africa from the Cricket World Cup, writes DANIEL GALLAN in London.

    Williamson was the standout performer after his 106 not out at Edgbaston set his side up for a run at the World Cup trophy. 

    The 28-year-old skipper put in a near-perfect display with the bat but played down a straight line when asked if this victory means that the tournament has a clearly defined top four.

    ‘There’s still a number of games left and as we know in these sorts of tournaments, things can go in a number of different ways,’ Williamson said. ‘For us, we’re focusing on the cricket that we want to play and try and improve day in and day out.’

    The Black Caps top the log after five games with four wins and one no-result. South Africa, by contrast, lie in eighth place, six points further back.

    Williamson’s task was made easier by his bowlers who kept South Africa to a score of 241-6 from 49 overs, a total that never looked like being enough.

    ‘They were brilliant,’ Williamson said, singling out Colin de Grandhomme and Mitchell Santner in particular for their miserly spells. ‘It was one of those wickets that if you were able to squeeze and apply pressure, which they did, then they certainly weren’t far away.’

    Williamson’s innings was perfectly paced but there were patches where he struggled with scoring himself. There was a stage between the 25th and 35th overs where shots kept finding fielders and runs were hard to come by. It was an almost Test-like innings from one of the world’s best.

    ‘You’re just trying to do the job as best you can and commit to the team and not get caught up in what it looks like,’ he said of his steady approach. ‘It’s just about trying to focus on the task. It doesn’t always come off but it was nice we were able to take the game to a stage where we were able to get across the line.’

    South Africa’s highest from six games is Quinton de Kock’s 68 against Afghanistan.

    No batsman has scored a hundred despite six half-centuries. That has proved decisive for the Proteas who need only look at Williamson’s performance to understand why they’re languishing near the bottom of the table.

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    Wade Pretorius