The Indian top-order, especially Rohit Sharma, is in exceptional form and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson claimed the Indian opener has been the standout batter in the ongoing mega event. Speaking at a press conference before facing India in the first semifinal of ICC World Cup 2019, Williamson, however, sounded confident and said they were up for the tough challenge against Virat Kohli & Co.
He admitted that the Kiwi bowlers will have to work overtime and be at their very best to make sure that the Indian top-three don’t produce any match-winning show. But he held the trust to his bowling unit and said they are capable enough to assess the condition and bowl accordingly and prioritized on early wickets.
He added, “As a bowling unit, first and foremost, it’s about assessing the conditions. Rohit has been clearly the stand-out batter in this tournament so far and he has been batting beautifully.” “But, as we know, we are going into a semifinal. It is 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 may be. But, without a doubt, he (Rohit) has been superb throughout the tournament,” Williamson said with a smile.
Asked if he was under pressure to perform on the big stage, Williamson said: “No, I think there’s also been a number of other contributions that have been really important for us to get to where we are right now. He continued, “All contributions have been very significant for us to chase totals down which we have done well in the earlier stages of the competition. From my perspective, I try to go out and play my role as best I can to help move the team forward and that doesn’t change going into tomorrow’s match. You always want to contribute more.
The New Zealand bowling attack has been most successful against India in recent times, but Williamson believes that the conditions have had a say in the way things have panned out so far. “Conditions are a big part of that question and on the ones that we have been successful, we have been able to exploit those conditions. Against any opposition, when the ball is moving, whether it is off the surface or in the air, you do have the opportunity to take early wickets and everybody goes into the game with a desire to do that,” he added.
“We will have to wait and see what the surface holds for us. As a bowling unit, the guys will be certainly trying their best to try and take early wickets on whatever surface we get because we know that it is very important. India obviously have a very good batting line-up, so you do need to try and dismiss them early,” he pointed out.
Just like India, New Zealand also came to know their semifinal opponent after the last game of the group stage between Australia and South Africa. Asked if that changed anything, Williamson said it didn’t matter at this level.
“It’s the semifinal of a World Cup and whoever you play, it is going to be a tough match. The top four teams have managed to get through, obviously playing some good cricket along the way, and we know that we are in for a tough battle, which is great. I think every side believes that if they have got this far, they can go all the way. And to do that, you need to basically beat everybody. If we are able to do that, who knows what the future holds for us,” he said.
While critics have called India favourites for the game, it doesn’t bother Williamson much. “Although we have qualified fourth, we have equal opportunities as anybody else. Anybody could beat anybody and we saw that happen on a number of occasions,” the New Zea Land skipper said.