Cricket World Cup 2019: Kane Williamson credits Blackcaps' fighting spirit after stunning India win

Blackcaps captain Kane Williamson is proud of his team's fighting spirit, after they defied critics to pull off a dramatic 18-run victory over India and advance to the Cricket World Cup final.

After reaching 239/8 in the rain-delayed match at Old Trafford, New Zealand's opening bowlers Matt Henry (3/37) and Trent Boult (2/42) ripped through the much-vaunted Indian top order.

Chasing 240 for victory, India were reduced to 5/3 inside the first four overs and ultimately fell to a narrow defeat.

Henry took the wickets of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, the top runscorer at the World Cup, while Boult claimed the prize scalp of Indian captain Virat Kohli.

Later Williamson said it was a satisfying feeling, knowing New Zealand would play in Sunday's final against England or Australia at Lord's.

"A brilliant fighting effort from our guys on what was another tough surface and it required that mentality," Williamson said.

"It was really important that we're prepared to do that and stay in the game for a long time. We all know the class side that India are.

"But you come to this tournament, where anybody can beat anybody. We saw a number of results perhaps where sides ranked lower beat sides ranked higher, but I think everybody knew that anybody could beat anybody.   

"We came through in the fourth position, which is fine, and then we put out a much-improved performance in the semi-final. It is important for us to try and make small improvements moving into our next match."

The match was forced into a reserve day, after rain hampered proceedings on Tuesday, when the Blackcaps were 211/5 with 23 balls left in their innings.

"At the halfway stage, we sort of wanted 240, 250," he said. "We knew we would be competitive, if we got that because the surface played the way it did.

"But then to have to start with the ball that we had was an outstanding way to try and kick things off, and try and get into a position of strength.

"I thought the way the bowlers and the fielders operated throughout on a big field, on a surface, which they had to adapt differently again, was a great effort."

While the heroics of Henry and Boult with the ball were special, Williamson had to give credit to Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill, who put poor batting performances behind them with excellent game-changing fielding.

Neesham took a stunning diving catch to remove Dinesh Karthik (six), while Guptill hit the stumps with a direct hit to run out MS Dhoni (50), who is often referred to as one of the best closers in cricket.

"We all know the game is a fine line in a number of ways, but that run-out was significant," Williamson said.

"We've seen Dhoni finish games from those similar positions on a number of occasions.

"It was a tough surface, so nothing was promised. Naturally, to dismiss Dhoni in whatever fashion is extremely important, but for a direct hit run-out very, very similar to Jadeja's, I think, was a big moment in the game.

"Being under so much pressure, to take the game to a stage where they could potentially win it the way they were hitting it with Jadeja and Dhoni, the effort from our bowlers was outstanding."

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