New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson
New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson plays football while taking part in a training session at Old Trafford in Manchester. Image Credit: AFP

Manchester: New Zealand is not concerned about their so-called underdogs’ tag in the World Cup semi-final on Tuesday. Skipper Kane Williamson believes in his team turning up with a positive approach for the match and producing a winning performance at Old Trafford.

“It doesn’t really matter what we are termed as. It is all about how we turn up tomorrow and look to commit to the plans that we want to implement and try and go out and play with that freedom because every side has beaten one another on a number of occasions. True, it is a semi-final, so there are perhaps a few more external parts to this match that are a little bit different from others.

“Ultimately, I think the team that goes out with that positive approach and sticks to their plans as best as they can gives themselves the best chance to win a cricket match.”

Asked if they have any plans in place to stop the high-scoring Rohit Sharma, Williamson did not give away anything. “There are a lot of parts to that. As a bowling unit, the first and foremost thing is to assess the conditions. Rohit has clearly been the standout batter in this tournament so far and has been batting beautifully. But as we come into a semi-final, its another day where both sides will be trying to adjust to the conditions as quickly as possible and both teams will be looking for early wickets regardless of what their name maybe. But without a doubt, he’s been superb throughout the tournament.”

He went on to talk about his team’s biggest strength — his bowlers’ ability to adapt to conditions. “Our attack has performed really well on a real variety of surfaces where taking the pace off the ball has been really important, especially in the round-robin stages. We will need to do that again coming into this next match and assess conditions as quickly as possible.”

But at the same time, he lauded India’s attack too. “The Indian bowling attack is an outstanding one with a lot of world-class operators in there. As a side, they are very well-balanced with a lot of high quality players. It is one of those occasions where every team has worked very hard to end up in the last four and when the day comes, it starts all over again. It is a really exciting opportunity for all teams.”

Is there any winning total that Williamson has in mind? “Only after we have assessed the conditions, can we think of something. The guys’ mindsets will definitely be about doing that first. On a lot of the surfaces we played our round-robin games were 230, 240, which were really competitive because of the nature of the track. I know the guys are really excited by the opportunity to go out and play with that freedom that when we do gives us the best chance.”