Cricket World Cup 2019: Blackcaps captain Kane WIlliamson looks to put underdogs tag to rest in final against England

The Blackcaps have been labelled all sorts during the Cricket World Cup from 'underdogs' to 'dark horses', but call them what you like, Kane Williamson isn't bothered. 

After going unbeaten in their first six games of the tournament, Williamson's men went onto lose their last three round-robin games against Pakistan, England and Australia, to qualify for the playoffs in fourth. 

As a result nobody rated them a chance to win the title, but New Zealand defied the odds to overcome India in a rain-affected semi-final on Wednesday to secure a place in the showpiece against England at Lord's on Sunday.

Whoever wins the final will take home the World Cup for the first time, but it is England who heads into the clash with all the expectation given their position as the hosts and number-one ranked side in ODI cricket.

Willamson appeared calm, cool and composed at the throughout his pre-match press conference, and when asked whether his team were comfortable with the oft-repeated tag of underdogs, Williamson said it didn't matter to his team which breed of dogs they were. 

"A lot of people say that on several occasions, which is great," Williamson said, addressing New Zealand's underdog status. 

"I think England rightly so deserve to be favourites. Coming into this tournament from the start, they were favourites, and they've been playing excellent cricket.

"But whatever dog we are, it's just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play and we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody regardless of breed of dog."

"We are quite keen on winning as well. There are all different bits of pressure on anybody, whether you are favourites or not."

Williamson appeared to be amused with his canine response, he managed to bring it up again when asked about the possibility of ruining England's World Cup party in front of what is expected to be a packed Lord's.

"Party-poopers? You talking about dogs again, eh?" he said with a smile.

"Underdogs? Look, we are really looking forward to the occasion. There's a lot of time between now and the end result, so focussing too much on it I don't think is a positive thing.

"The focus for us as a group is what's in front of us. 

"We know you go into any match, and you have to deal with a number of different things, whether it's different moments of pressure, whether it's different moments of momentum and we have to be prepared to deal with all of those again."

The Blackcaps played and lost in the 2015 World Cup final against Australia, who claimed a seven-wicket win over their trans-Tasman rivals. 

Five of the players from that game, including Williamson were part of the team that beat India in the semi-final at Old Trafford earlier this week, and Williamson conceded that this year's team is very different to the one from four years ago. 

"There's a whole heap of different things, I suppose," he said. "We were in a different part of the world on a different surface against different opposition, and both sides are very different from four years ago, so it's kind of hard to compare those times.

"But I prefer winning than losing," he added. "That is probably the best way to say it. Any experience that you have is an opportunity to learn and sometimes tough experiences, being on the wrong side of results, can slap you in the face and give you a glaring lesson, and if you ignore that, I don't think that is a positive thing.

"So treating both of those, the outcomes with respect and trying to learn from them to be better as a group and as an individual, I think it is the best part.

"Whether having had experience in a final or not is a good thing, any final you get the opportunity to play in is a really positive thing. But at the same time, as we know, in this game nothing promises, so it does come down to putting a performance on the board that gives us the best opportunity to win."


Join us at 9:30pm Sunday for live updates of the Blackcaps v England Cricket World Cup final