ANI Photo | “My knee held up pretty well”: Kane Williamson following WC warm-up match against Pakistan

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said that his knee held up pretty well while batting during the ICC Cricket World Cup warm-up match between the Kiwis and Pakistan and it was nice to get some time in the middle to bat. 
Half-centuries from Rachin Ravindra, Williamson, Daryl Mitchell and Mark Chapman helped the Kiwis chase down a massive 346 runs against Pakistan. For Pakistan, Mohammed Rizwan smashed a hundred while skipper Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel smashed fifties.
Williamson made an impressive return to the game from a knee injury sustained during the Indian Premier League (IPL) back in March. While he is still recovering and will miss the tournament opener against England on October 5, his batting and getting some game time are encouraging signs for the Kiwis. 
“Just great to get through some batting out in the middle and be part of a match, which was really nice and it (knee) held up pretty well,” Williamson said after New Zealand’s win as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
The batter said that his knee needed a bit of icing after batting. 
“It needed a little bit of icing afterward but it is all part of the process. Yeah, it was not a reality certainly five months ago and [I have] been quite fortunate with some of that recovery and to be named in the squad is really exciting for me and just really looking forward to getting out there again. It was nice to do that today,” he added. 
Williamson’s improved level of fitness comes as a boost for New Zealand ahead of the World Cup. At one point, it seemed that he could miss the entire tournament, but was ultimately named to the squad as he continued to make a speedy recovery and was fine enough to be included. 
His knee was heavily strapped up during the warm-ups leading to the match. He played as a specialist batter, not fielding in the first innings. He came in at number three and had a century partnership with Ravindra. 
During his return match, he dealt with pacer Hasan Ali’s outswingers cautiously and eventually settled to find gaps at will. He also used some sweep shots, including a reverse sweep against spinners. 
“It was largely pretty good, which was pleasing. Nice to sort of build on that. It was a fantastic hit-out obviously. Pakistan are an outstanding side. I mean both teams were trying to get what they wanted out of it, in terms of bowlers getting overs they needed and time in the legs. So, it is an exercise, but also nice to compete and do all those things. As a bowling unit and batting unit, plenty to take away from it. There are always things to work on and it was a great batting performance today. It was a really good surface and it is nice that we were able to put together partnerships and get time in the middle,” he added. 
Williamson will however, miss the opening match of his team in the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 against England as he continues to recover from knee surgery, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced the batter’s availability update on Friday.
“Williamson will play as a batsman-only in today’s first warm-up match against Pakistan in Hyderabad, with the aim of batting and fielding in Monday’s second and final warm-up against South Africa in Trivandrum,” NZC had said in an official statement. 
New Zealand coach Gary Stead said making sure Williamson had enough time to progress in his return to match fitness was their top concern. 
“Right from the start we have taken a long-term view on Kane’s return to play. His recovery is tracking well and it’s now a matter of making sure he can cope with the rigours and intensity of international cricket. We’ll continue to take a day-by-day approach to Kane’s rehabilitation and certainly won’t be putting any pressure on him to return before he is ready,” Stead stated in an official statement by NZC. (ANI)

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