Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
Quiet, frill-free and industrious, Kane Williamson is more easily pictured in an orchestra than in a rock band. He's more likely to be dressed in a turtleneck than a chestful of tattoos. In a batting order brimming with audacity and belligerence, he and his well-to-do locker of cricket strokes are the orthodox touch.
Williamson's meticulous approach has worked well in the past year, which was as much a year of growth and realised potential for him as for the team in general. He finished 2014 with 929 runs scored at an average of 61.93. Yet, with a Test-match strike rate under 45, he can't help but feel like a square sometimes, particularly in the company of Brendon McCullum.
"After lunch on that first day, I was struggling in Christchurch and Brendon was whacking it to all parts," Williamson said. "It kind of felt like I was the library in a theme park. He was doing everything and I was watching. It's fantastic the way he's going - it's something most of us have never seen before."
If Williamson does have a strike-rate inferiority complex in this team, he pairs it with an acceptance of the limits of his own ability. In Christchurch, he contributed only 20 to a fourth-wicket stand of 126 with McCullum. However, he capped off his fine year with a 98-ball 54 in the first innings, and a sedate 31 not out off 75 balls in the second innings, as he helped New Zealand complete a chase of 105 with no cause for panic.
"When you're playing with him you can't compete with what Brendon's doing," Williamson said. "You just stick to your game. Sometimes it highlights the fact that you need to stick around so he can keep playing with that freedom. When he is playing like that and doing what he's doing, he develops the game and pushes it forward in our favour. It's slightly dangerous at the other end - you have to watch it, but it's something special to watch."
Though the bowlers on the receiving end are often beset by scattered thoughts, McCullum himself remains collected during his manic knocks, Williamson said. "When Brendon's in that mode he looks very relaxed. You can get excited when he's doing that, and think "jeepers", but I'm sure everyone has been thinking that. At the same time he's been very calculating. Sometimes it doesn't look like it, but from ball one, he's been measured with his approach. In the last match it was tough to drive so he wanted to hit through the line. He did that and it went a long way."
The Basin Reserve, which is being readied for the second Test of the series, was the scene of a major rearguard batting effort from the hosts last February. New Zealand will take fond memories of that match into the upcoming game, Willliamson said, but also suggested that a pitch so green it is almost indistinguishable from the outfield does not necessarily mean the match will be heavily stacked in favour of the seamers.
"It always appears to be pretty green when you turn up here, but it's always a good track at the Basin. Brendon scored a triple-hundred on it last time. If you put it in the right areas it's difficult, but if you play well, you've seen in the previous game the batsmen have scored runs too.
"For the India and West Indies Tests here, there was still green but it was still a wicket that had pace and bounce, so when you get a few lose balls you could score. Whatever you do you have to do it well, and the batsmen will have to see off the new ball well to get a good first innings in."
With Sri Lanka having batted and bowled substantially better in the back end of the Boxing Day Test, New Zealand can expect a sterner challenge in Wellington, Williamson said. The visitors are also bolstered by the return of Rangana Herath, who has sufficiently recovered from a hamstring tear to be available for the match.
"We did see in the second innings in Christchurch that Sri Lanka can perform here, and they can occupy the wicket even when it's doing a bit. That's the challenge in this country, and they've shown they can do it. It's nice to get that win, but we certainly know we're up against a really strong challenge in this one.
"Here at the Basin there's always that bit of bounce for the spinners and a little bit of turn later on in the game, so Herath's a key player for them. He's second in the world [Ryan Harris recently displaced him to third in the rankings], and in Test cricket he's fantastic. The role of a spinner here can be a little different in New Zealand, but they still can have a big role to play."