Virat Kohli has endorsed Kane Williamson as the “perfect leader” for New Zealand, despite the hosts suffering a 5-0 T20I whitewash against India on the back of a 3-0 Test whitewash against Australia.
“Very similar mindsets, very similar philosophies. He’s just a really nice guy, and we got along well, we’ve known each other for a while. It’s amazing to know that in different parts of the world you are thinking the same things, talking the same language and heading in the right direction,” Kohli told the host broadcaster on Sunday. “Although the scoreline looks very different for New Zealand, I truly believe that New Zealand cricket is in the best hands with Kane. He is the right guy to lead this team, and lay out that vision for them which he has in the past as well.”
New Zealand were World Cup finalists and ranked No. 2 in Tests under Williamson not too long ago. But their form has plummeted since a horrid tour of Australia where they went as the higher ranked team but returned with their confidence shattered after suffering their worst-ever defeat in the country.
Williamson’s own form was worrisome, with only 57 runs in four innings. He sat out the final match of that series in Sydney due to illness. And although he seemed to have rediscovered his best against India in the third T20I, where he toyed with no less a bowler than Jasprit Bumrah to make 95, it wasn’t enough to take his team over the line as they succumbed to a third Super-Over defeat across formats in seven months. New Zealand have since squandered two more opportunities to get across the line, with Williamson out injured.
Kohli, however, stressed that there was more to leadership than results reflected. “As I said, results always can’t determine your leadership. I spoke to him today, and the way he thinks about life and the game, he is just the perfect, perfect man to lead this side. I wish them all the luck and all the power to come back stronger, and they are a side everyone loves to watch and play against as well. Just had a very nice conversation, something that I will remember.”
Reflecting on India’s series win, Kohli said the most heartening aspect was the youngsters standing up, particularly in the last final T20I where he himself was resting and stand-in captain Rohit Sharma couldn’t take the field after suffering an injury when he was batting.
“Really proud of the way we played this series. The conversation we had in the change room was always looking to find a way to win. That’s something we have been working on as a team. When it comes together nicely, it feels really good, and especially today, I mean, you don’t want to see what happened to Rohit, but the fact that in the field, there were all these young guys playing together, and handling pressure situations was something I was very happy to watch from the outside. Obviously gives you a lot of satisfaction as a senior player, because you know the team is in good hands, and there are people who are thinking in the right manner about the game and who are going to take this momentum for the team forward in many years to come.”