Cricket World Cup 2019: Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson unfazed by underdog status against India

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson isn't bothered that his side are massive underdogs, heading into their Cricket World Cup semi-final against India at Old Trafford, Manchester on Tuesday (NZT).

Williamson's men are outsiders, after lost their last three games against Pakistan, Australia and England, while India have been the best team at the World Cup and also beat New Zealand 4-1 in an one-day series earlier this year.

But the Kiwi skipper argues each of the last four teams in the World Cup is capable of beating one another.

Winning the toss will be huge, as all five games at Old Trafford so far have been won by the team batting first.

"I think, for everybody, it sort of starts afresh tomorrow, after what was a very tough round-robin stage," Williamson said.

"Whether we are underdogs or not, it doesn't matter. It is about how we turn up tomorrow and look to commit to the plans that we want to implement.

"We have to go out and play with that freedom, because every side has beaten one another on a number of occasions.

"Although we have qualified fourth, we have the same opportunity as anybody else does. There are only two games left in the tournament.

"During the round robin, we saw that anybody could beat anybody and we saw, on a number of occasions, that happened. Our focus once again is committing to the style of cricket we want to play that gives us the best chance."

Williamson has been the linchpin to New Zealand's success at the World Cup, leading the way with the bat and scoring 481 runs from the group stage at a 96-plus average.   

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 pressure and he wants his frontline batsmen to play with freedom

"We were certainly expecting that it would be tough, but what we didn't quite expect coming into the tournament was the large variety of conditions that we faced.

"That definitely made, perhaps, batting with any rhythm a real challenge for it is certainly the most important thing."   

"It's just a great occasion to be a part of. I know the guys are really excited by the opportunity to go out and try and play with that freedom that, when we do, gives us the best chance."   

Williamson is looking forward to the chance to square off against India counterpart Virat Kohli, as the pair captained their nations against one another in the U19 World Cup semi-finals 11 years ago.

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

"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."

The winners will face either Australia or England in the World Cup final.


Join us at 9:30pm Tuesday for live updates of the Blackcaps v India Cricket World Cup semi-final

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