The last time New Zealand featured in an ODI World Cup semifinal in 2019, it came out victorious against a star-studded India. Four years later, as the two teams meet again for yet another semifinal - this time at the Wankhede Stadium - New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is comfortable with the ‘underdog’ tag attached to his side.
“I think every game in this tournament is a tricky one. As we have seen throughout, any team can beat anybody on the day. That’s obviously the quality on both sides, but it’s also about the changing conditions and how that has an impact. So for us, it’s great to have got to the final stages and then take a fresh approach because it does start again,” Williamson said on Tuesday.
“The underdog thing, I don’t think it has changed too much. But that’s fine. India has been exceptional. One of the, if not the best team going around, and playing cricket that matches that. But we know as well that on our day when we play our best cricket, it certainly gives us the best chance and come finals time, anything can happen…”
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As the New Zealand captain’s media interaction continued for about twenty minutes, Williamson had a smile on his face throughout and instead of being under pressure ahead of a marquee clash, he even cracked jokes at scribes from New Zealand.
The build-up to the tournament wasn’t perfect for him due to injury, but he did manage to put things together and find his mojo. “It was an interesting journey for sure… It was quite frustrating and testing but still feeling that it hadn’t ruled me out so I still was grateful for that and it’s nice to be fitter than perhaps I was yesterday and be sitting here,” Williamson said.
It will be a challenge for both teams to not think about what happened four years earlier at the same stage in the tournament. But Williamson had a different take.
“The teams work hard to get to this stage, they have to play a lot of good cricket within the format or the structure of the tournament to get here over such a long period of time. It’s a great occasion and it’s on the day. Both teams are looking to play their best cricket and compete in the best way that they can…”
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