The key to Ravindra's rapid ascent

Publish Date
Tuesday, 6 February 2024, 8:36AM

By Kris Shannon

Kane Williamson knows what it takes to score a test double ton at 24 and one preternatural quality is more important than most.

In an innings reminiscent of Williamson at his best, Rachin Ravindra expertly crafted 240 in the first test against South Africa, captivating those at Bay Oval with his style while blunting the bowling attack with his solidity.

It led the Black Caps to a total of 511 — already appearing far from the second-string Proteas’ reach on 80-4 at stumps — and left Williamson doling out the type of praise he’s accustomed to receiving.

“He’s brilliant,” the 97-test veteran said of a batter playing his fourth. “He’s a class act to watch from the other end and has a very calm, mature head on him — that’s one of his biggest strengths.

“Clearly he’s got the skill and the game, as we’ve seen in the one-day format in particular, but to see him out there the last couple of days, it was a full display of skill but with such a calm temperament.”

That range of qualities is exceptional for a 24-year-old, but not unique. Nine years ago, Williamson struck an unbeaten 242 to guide New Zealand to victory over Sri Lanka at the Basin Reserve, producing that match-winning knock 148 days into his 25th year.

Ravindra registered his maiden double ton at 24 years and 78 days, putting him second behind Mathew Sinclair (24yr, 47d) while impressing Williamson with his determination to convert an opening-day century into a score of real significance.

“It was an outstanding innings and a special moment for Rachin with his first test hundred,” said Williamson, having shared the moment en route to a record 232-run stand. “But not only that, it wasn’t enough and he had to keep going to put the team in a strong position.

“When someone goes out and scores 240 and is not satisfied with anything less — it’s about applying himself for as long as he can — that shows an outstanding attitude.”

It’s an attitude that should see Ravindra lock down his test spot at No 4. After beginning international life as a lower-order allrounder before breaking out at the ODI World Cup while opening, he has the adaptability to tailor his approach to what any given situation requires.

“He looked pretty good at 4,” Williamson said. “He kept going and knew the times to try and increase the run rate as we were getting into a real position of strength.

“He is a stroke-maker and plays all the shots and does like to go through the gears. I do think it suits his style of play.

“Getting the opportunity to come in and bat at 4 was something that appeared to be quite natural.”

Those instincts seem set to frustrate opposition attacks for years to come, with Proteas skipper Neil Brand ruing a missed chance on 80 but nonetheless tipping his cap to a player whose wicket he eventually claimed.

“Unbelievable,” Brand assessed. “We did drop him but other than that it was flawless. They way he struck the ball was pretty scary to watch. He’s a great player and I’m sure he’s going to have a big future ahead of him.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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