New Zealand's Kane Williamson
New Zealand's Kane Williamson in ation against England. Image Credit: Reuters

Leeds: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was adamant that his side were only focused on winning against England and did not have one eye on the run-rate as they looked to ensure a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

The Kiwis came up short in their battle with England — losing by 119 runs at Chester-Le-Street — but they still won the war of ensuring a place in the last four of the tournament, with Pakistan being the last team to lose out.

Williamson said that it wasn’t his team’s attempt to boost the run rate that led to them folding for 185 and losing the match against the hosts. “No, we were trying to obviously win the game, but we didn’t do a very good job of it,” he said. “It was a tough one. We probably didn’t do too well with the ball, and didn’t start off great in batting either. But (Jonny) Bairstow and (Jason) Roy are playing really, really well and they put us under a lot of pressure.”

Williamson gave full credit to the England team that outplayed them in all departments of the game. “I don’t want to take anything away from the way that the England side played,” he said. “They outplayed us regardless of conditions today and fully deserve their win. As for us, we are thinking about our cricket and where we can improve, and without a doubt, it’s about trying to take smarter options on some of these tougher surfaces. However, none of that really matters now because we are potentially moving on to another surface where, if it is tough, we do need to take some of these lessons forward. If not, we need to go out and play with freedom on what might be a better surface.”

Williamson, as well as his star batsman Ross Taylor, were both run out, and he admitted that it was the pressure put on by the England’s bowlers that resulted in the mess. But he was also thankful that all his team members tried to give in their best. “Despite the pressure, everybody came in and tried to play their role as best they can, and that is important. It was great for the likes of Tom Latham to spend some time in the middle and other guys to spend brief moments as well. But we do need to try and take the partnerships longer and deeper in terms of making them more significant.”

The Kiwi skipper was also gracious while lauding the England openers Roy and Bairstow for their form. “They’ve been awesome getting their team off to a brilliant start and, you know, their threats go a long way down their order and that’s one of the strengths of the England side, the balance and depth they have in all departments.”

Meanwhile, England opener Bairstow, after his second successive century, is delighted at ensuring his team a place in the semi-finals. “It’s very pleasing to be in this form. You’ve got to just react to whatever is thrown in front of you, and we applied ourselves pretty well,” he said. “Obviously batting together for a period of time helps, you understand each other well. We knew it was a must-win game and they are a class side. But we are thrilled to be through to the semi-final. Hopefully, we will put in good enough performances in the remaining two games and win them.”