New Zealand captain Kane Williamson admitted that playing the second phase of Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates did help in understanding the conditions better in the lead up to the T20 World Cup.
New Zealand will be meeting England in the semi-final and on the eve of the match, Williamson said he had initially felt that Asian teams would have a distinct advantage but having played in the IPL made him realise that margins are fine.
“The IPL and I suppose the other franchise comps, but certainly add a lot to the knowledge of the players from all countries,” Williamson said at the pre-match press conference.
“And also add to the experience of being able to share and I think we’ve seen in this tournament and we certainly saw in the second half of the IPL the variability and the surfaces which, perhaps lent itself more naturally to certain sides. But you sort of in the moment you compete in different games and the margins are fine.”
Williamson feels that while margins are indeed fine, New Zealand have also been ‘fortunate”.
“We know coming into this tournament that truly any team could beat anybody and we sort of saw that throughout the competition and there are some sides that perhaps were favourites coming into it. And we’re fortunate on the day but I suppose that’s tournament sport as well.
“So it’s great we feel fortunate to have got through the stages and been playing some reasonable cricket and we want to continue to,” the affable Black Caps skipper said.
Five years ago, Williamson captained for the first time in an ICC event at the 2016 T20 World Cup and the skipper feels a lot has changed since then.
“There have been some really good steps forward and this tournament compared to the last one, I suppose a few new faces and a real mixture of that sort of youth and experience.
“But, yeah, it’s been a nice journey, I suppose from five years ago. And it’s nice to be here and be involved in the semi-finals. But the guys are really looking forward to the challenge and want to continue to focus on the cricket that we’ve been playing and try and improve on it.”
Williamson was all praise for the pace duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, who have been integral to New Zealand’s success.
“They’ve been brilliant. They’ve been involved in the team in all formats for a long time and really experienced operators for us. And experienced in terms of playing in all different conditions,” he said.
“And have been executing their skills beautifully and performing their realize to the highest standards. They’ve been doing a fantastic job for us, really leading our attack who have been performing well and adjusting well to the different surfaces that we’ve been on. And a real strength on our side.”
Williamson also waxed eloquent about Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway’s batting throughout the tourney.
“I mean, someone like Devon has played this sort of role for us, anyway, on the New Zealand team for a while. He’s a very experienced player.
“Although relatively new to the international game, but clearly world-class in his skill set and a fantastic head on his shoulders. He’s made those adjustments really quickly and come over to the UAE, which is his first time, and played some really key roles for us.”
Asked to open the innings, Mitchell provided New Zealand with good starts. His best score so far in the tournament has been a 35-ball 49 against India.
“And Daryl, who has been involved in a number of formats and has brought a brilliant attitude and I suppose coming into the tournament everybody’s preparation perhaps a little bit disjointed and Daryl’s given himself an opportunity to be at the top of the order with his ability to hit the ball hard and straight and also play spin.”
Williamson also is wary of England, which has multiple white-ball match-winners in their team.
“Look, they’ve got match winners throughout their team. And that’s been a big, I suppose, movement of their white ball side. Power packed and bat deep as well.
“I spent quite a bit of time with Liam (Livingstone) at Birmingham Phoenix, played superbly well through the 100 ball competition. There are a number of threats and number of match winners. We also have a number of match winners as well,” Williamson said.