India enter Wednesday’s ICC World Cup semi-final against New Zealand high on confidence, having won nine out of nine matches in the group stage which including a four-wicket victory over the Black Caps in Dharamsala.
On the eve of the big match at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday however, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson warned the upcoming clash would be an entirely different affair from the group fixture.
“Dharamsala was a great game but when you get into finals, things change,” Williamson, who missed a major portion of the World Cup due to fitness issues, said on the eve of the semi-final in Mumbai.
“Every game is a tricky one, any team can beat anyone. For us, it’s great to reach finals and start again. India have been exceptional. One of the best teams going around,” Williamson added.
Williamson also did not mind the underdogs tag that some have associated with the Kiwis despite them having finished runners-up in the last two World Cups as well as the 2021 T20 World Cup, besides beating India in the inaugural World Test Championship final.
He did admit that the Indians have been “exceptional” in the World Cup so far, but that anything can happen on Wednesday.
“The underdog thing from what you guys write I do not think it has changed too much, but that is fine, and India have been exceptional.
“India are one of the, if not the best team going around and playing cricket that matches that, but we know as well on our day when we play our best cricket, it certainly gives us the best chance, and anything can happen,” he said.
The Gujarat Titans batter also heaped praise on Rohit Sharma and Co for adjusting superbly despite losing a key player in Hardik Pandya to ankle injury.
Pandya had been ruled out after suffering the injury during the match against Bangladesh in Pune and the Indians drafted Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav into the XI as his replacement, starting with the match against New Zealand in Dharamsala. Shami made an instant impact with a five-wicket haul and would soon become India’s leading wicket-taker in the ongoing tournament.
“Every team has a slightly different balance that they rely on and naturally with the injury to Hardik it meant that their balance changed a little bit, but certainly did not change the outcome of what they were doing,” Williamson said.
“They (India) adjusted nicely, and you know our team tends to, or has done in the past anyway, played with a slightly different balance.
“When you get into tournaments as well, it is guys being nice and familiar with the roles that they have, whether that is with the ball or with the bat, and it all goes quite quickly so you are trying to make sure you build on those performances as a team,” he said.
“(India) have done it better than anybody so far in this competition. As a side, I think we have done some good stuff too,” he added.