ICC World Twenty20

Williamson hails 'fearless' Kiwis

2016-03-29 21:02
Kane Williamson (AFP)

New Delhi - They are the nearly men of world cricket, with a reputation for faltering at the business end of tournaments.

But a year on from the pain of losing the 50 over World Cup final, skipper Kane Williamson says his unbeaten New Zealand team are a relaxed and fearless unit as they hone in on Twenty20 cricket's biggest prize.

"At the moment the team is very relaxed, going about their business," Williamson told reporters on Tuesday on the eve of New Zealand's World Twenty20 semi-final clash against England in New Delhi.

"Up until now we have been playing fearless cricket and smart cricket and that's what we will try and do again and hope that holds us in good stead in terms of a result.

"But at the same time we are up against a very strong England team that will be trying their best to win the game. So we are looking forward to it. It's going to be exciting."

Williamson took over on the eve of the tournament in India as New Zealand's captain after the retirement of their talisman Brendon McCullum, who went some way to rewriting that reputation for under-achievement.

While New Zealand have never won either of cricket's two major international trophies, they had made it to the semi-finals on seven occasions before McCullum took over.

But although they went one better last year by reaching the final of the World Cup, there was more heartache to come when they were steamrolled by Michael Clarke's Australian team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Williamson insisted that defeat was not playing on the team's mind but he also resisted talk that the Black Caps' wins over India, Australia and Pakistan in the group stages put them in the rare position of favourites.

"We have made one final and lost, but we don't look at it that closely," said Williamson, who has been one of the stand-out performers in New Zealand's perfect run to the semis.

"I think it's almost impossible in T20 cricket to give someone the favourites tag. It's so fickle in its nature that on any given day the team that plays the best wins and England can beat anyone."

While England are playing their third match in a row at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, it will be the fifth different venue in five tournament matches for the Black Caps.

To date, New Zealand's spinners have taken to the different surfaces like ducks to water and have been so potent that both of the team's main fast bowlers -- Trent Boult and Tim Southee --- are yet to get a game.

Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi were the top wicket-takers in the group stages while even part-time medium-pacer Grant Elliott weighed in with figures of three for 12, bowling mainly cutters, in the last match against Bangladesh.

"The spinners have been brilliant on surfaces that have suited spin bowling," said Williamson, while holding back from confirming that all his spinners would again start the game.

"We are not quite sure at this stage what to expect. We have seen a few games played on it recently, but we still have to have a good look at the surface and decide.

"There are number of world class bowlers that haven't played a game, still been brilliant in the group and understand that we do the best we can in picking the side for the surface and opposition to try give ourselves the best chance. We have got all 15 players on board with that."

Apart from the question mark over whether off-spinner Nathan McCullum will keep his place, New Zealand are expected to recall key batsman Martin Guptill who was rested for their last group match against Bangladesh.


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