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New Zealand captain Williamson believes ‘anything can happen’ in World Cup semis

The Black Caps edged into the knockout stages ahead of Pakistan.

Kane Williamson said it does not matter whether or not New Zealand are World Cup underdogs (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Kane Williamson said it does not matter whether or not New Zealand are World Cup underdogs (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Kane Williamson argued every team in the last four of the World Cup are capable of beating one another as he expressed his indifference at New Zealand’s status as underdogs.

The Black Caps squeaked into the knockout stages ahead of Pakistan by virtue of their superior net run-rate, finishing fourth in the table to set up a semi-final showdown against India at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

New Zealand’s campaign has stuttered with three consecutive defeats while they have lost each of the last three bilateral one-day international series meetings against their next opponents.

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PA Graphic

India triumphed 4-1 on New Zealand soil earlier this year but the Kiwis’ lone success – their penultimate ODI meeting – saw them skittle the Asian giants for 92 in Hamilton.

Williamson said: “Whoever you play, every side has the belief that you get to this point, you can go all the way. To do that, you basically have to beat everyone.

“It’s one of those occasions where every team works so hard to end up in the last four where to a certain extent it all starts again where the day comes and anything can happen.

“All sides have beaten one another on a number of occasions throughout the last few years, so it’s a really exciting opportunity for all teams.

“We are in the top four now and I think if we are reflecting back on the round-robin we definitely deserve to be here. That is reflected in the standings.

“Whether we are underdogs or not, it doesn’t really matter. Its about how we turn up and how we commit to the plans we want to implement and try to play with that freedom.”

Williamson has been New Zealand’s batting linchpin with 481 runs at a phenomenal average of 96.2, while he is the only member of his side to reach three figures in this tournament, having done so twice.

Ross Taylor is the next best New Zealand batsman on the list, more than 200 runs back, but Williamson insists he is not feeling any undue burden.

He said: “I look at my role as a role and it’s one of 11 guys that do try to play their role to the best of their ability.

“After a very busy and fairly long round-robin series, it’s important that guys take that fresh mindset going into (Tuesday) with a really exciting opportunity in front of them.

“I think there’s also been a number of contributions that have been really important in order for us to get where we are right now.

“Whether that’s a lower score in terms of an individual, it’s still been very significant chasing totals down which we’ve done well in the earlier stages of the competition.

“From my perspective, it’s going out and trying to play my role as best I can to try and move the team forward and that doesn’t change.”

Williamson and India counterpart Virat Kohli have been the captains of their respective sides in another World Cup semi-final – at Under-19 level 11 years ago.

Kohli claimed the bragging rights on that day and even managed to bag the key wicket of Williamson.

When reminded of that, Williamson said: “Oh dear. He used to be an all-rounder back in the day but he hasn’t bowled as much recently.

“I guess that’s kind of cool that a few years later we’re here again, perhaps on a slightly different stage. It’s pretty special in a lot of respects to be able to lead your country out in a semi-final on the biggest stage.”

PA

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