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July 8, 2019

Kane Williamson

Manchester, England, UK

Q. Kane, in 2008 you and Virat captained New Zealand and India in the U19 World Cup semifinal. Do you remember any of that game and would you have envisaged that you two would be here today?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, I actually hadn't thought about that at all so I guess that's kind of cool, isn't it, that a few years later, we're here again, perhaps on a slightly different stage, but pretty special and a lot of respects to being able to lead your country out in a semifinal on the biggest stage.

But I know both sides without a doubt are looking forward to getting into the challenge and yeah, it's a really exciting opportunity.

Q. Apparently, he got you out that day as well, do you remember that?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Oh dear. Tell me how (laughter). He used to be an all-rounder I think back in the day, but hasn't bowled as much recently. Yeah...

Q. Kane, how would you sum up the performance of your bowling attack so far and what is your impression of the Indian attack?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, our attack's performed really well on a real variety of surfaces where taking pace off has been really important, certainly on the round-robin stages on the surfaces we were on, so they have adapted superbly. And we will need to do that again coming into this next match and assess conditions as quickly as possible.

And the Indian bowling attack is an outstanding bowling attack, you know, with certainly a lot of world-class operators in there. As a side, they are very well-balanced with a lot of high-quality players.

It's one of those, I guess, occasions, where every team has worked so hard to end up in the last four where, to a certain extent, it all starts again where the day comes and anything can happen and all sides have beaten one another on a number of occasions throughout the last few years, so it is a really exciting opportunity for all teams.

Q. Going back to your encounters with Virat in youth cricket, what are your first memories of him? Did he obviously stand out even then?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, yeah, he was a formidable player, growing up -- that seems odd to say because we were at the same age playing against each other on a number of occasions and then to go into international cricket at a youngish age, then IPL and these different sorts of things.

So it's obviously been a pleasure watching Virat play and evolve into the superstar that he is.

Q. You have had a wonderful tournament with the bat, but some of the others, Guptill, Taylor, Latham, probably haven't produced the volume of runs we are used to seeing from them. Why is that and how important is it that they take pressure off you tomorrow against a great attack?
KANE WILLIAMSON: I think for everybody it sort of starts fresh tomorrow after what was a very tough round-robin stage, and we were certainly expecting that it would be tough. But what we didn't quite expect coming into the tournament was the large variety of conditions that we faced. That definitely made perhaps batting with any rhythm a real challenge for everybody, so being able to adapt with the bat and just trying to contribute to what would be a competitive total if you are batting first, or obviously chasing a score is certainly what is the most important thing.

And the guys' mindsets will definitely be that going into tomorrow's match and we'll have to assess conditions again. But a lot of surfaces our round-robin play were 230, 240, which were really competitive because of the nature of the track.

So, look, it's just a great occasion to be a part of. I know the guys are really excited by the opportunity to go out and try and try and play with that freedom that when we do gives us the best chance.

Q. Kane, your bowlers have not dismissed, not taken all 10 wickets since the South Africa game. Is that a concern? Are you more or less happy with the way the bowlers have kept a tight leash on the runs?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, I think the bowlers have been brilliant throughout this whole campaign. I think we know in cricket that every day is different. Some days are better than others and just trying to adapt as a unit as best you can is definitely the most important thing.

By and large, they have done that outstandingly well and I think we have seen conditions change from first innings to second innings on some occasions. That's been quite considerable. So how guys have had to operate in the start of their innings and then moving into the second half of the bowling innings has had to be quite different. By and large, they have been superb throughout.

But we know we've got a different challenge, another challenge coming up tomorrow and that's obviously a different side, but different conditions again.

Q. Kane, do you have a specific area in the game where you think it will be won and lost?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Erm, not particularly. That's definitely an unknown. For us, certainly from our perspective, it is about the cricket we want to play and if we are able to do that to the best of our abilities, then we know that we can beat anybody.

And I mentioned earlier that every side in this top four has beaten each other on a number of occasions. No side has gone through the comp unbeaten, so there are a lot of parts to it that make this top four really exciting.

And although we have qualified fourth, we have equal opportunities as anybody else to -- well, there's only two games left in the tournament so going into the tournament, with every team having nine round-robin, we knew that on any day, whether that was the team ranked, you know, lower than the team ranked higher that anybody could beat anybody and we saw on a number of occasions that happened. It is not a focus for us. Our focus once again is committing to the cricket and the style of cricket we want to play that gives us the best chance.

Q. You have said just now about playing with freedom. When you are up against India -- and there are always one or two cameras following India -- there is a level of attention that goes up a notch whenever India are playing. I wonder if in a sense that allows the opponent, whoever it is, to play with a bit more freedom because you almost, maybe any team feels like an underdog when you are up against India?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, I guess there's truth in that, that India are a very successful side and very popular side with a large population and a lot of cameras (smiling), which is great. They bring so much to the sport that we are fortunate to be a part of. But it is a cricket match.

You do try and simplify things as best you can, as a team, and it does come back to the cricket that we want to play and not too reliant on external factors and how we adapt to conditions and, you know, that is the most important thing.

You get to the last four, semifinal, each side will want to put each other under pressure and we know when that happens that the bit next can be a real challenge, so both sides will be looking to do that.

Q. Virat said earlier that you and Ross are the key wickets, do you look at it like that? How do you assess being like the focal point of the New Zealand batting line-up?
KANE WILLIAMSON: No, I don't really look at it like that. I look at my role as a role and that's one of 11 guys that do try and play their role to the best of their ability. And there's so many guys that have had significant contributions over the last few years that have gone a long way for us to win cricket matches and we all have that same opportunity going into tomorrow.

We are -- after a very busy and fairly long round-robin series, it's important that guys almost take that fresh mindset going into tomorrow with a really exciting opportunity in front of them.

Q. At this level each and every team prepares almost the same in World Cup, does it boil down to one thing, playing under pressure?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, it's hard to pinpoint one thing that stands out as being perhaps the be-all-and-end-all. I suppose both sides, both sides, every side in international cricket trains as hard as they can to give themselves the best opportunity on the day.

And often in those small moments pressure arises and can be a big play and if you do get that momentum, then that can be really important, certainly in white-ball cricket.

So, yeah, it does play a part, but there's probably a lot of parts around it that you want to address so you can handle those smaller moments as best you can.

Q. Kane, does it fire you and the team up that many people are writing you off before a ball's bowled, that India are quite big favourites for many people?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Sorry... (laughter).

I don't know if "fired up" is the right term. We are in the top four now and I think if we are reflecting back on the round-robin, we definitely deserve to be here and that's reflected in the standings.

We had a couple of tough losses coming into this part of the tournament, but we do need to look at those for what they were and there are a lot of factors there that were stiff challenges, not just the opposition but conditions as well. And trying to adapt to those as best you can is the most important thing.

So, whether we are underdogs or not, it doesn't really matter. It is 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 I mentioned earlier that every side has beaten one another on a number of occasions. It is a semifinal. There are perhaps a few more external parts to this match that are a little bit different from others, but I think the team that goes out and has that approach sticks to their plans as best they can, then that does give themselves a best chance to win a cricket match.

Q. Kane, up until less than 24 hours, sorry 48 hours ago, you guys were maybe mentally thinking you were facing Australia in the semis. Does the kind of late switch of opponent to use a better phrase, does that help you guys and give you less pressure rather than playing a trans-Tasman game where the focus may have been quite intense?
KANE WILLIAMSON: No, I think regardless, it's the semi-final 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 and it is to be expected and whoever you play, I think every side has the belief that you get to this point that they can go all the way and to do that you need to basically beat everybody.

So whoever the team is, it comes back to us in terms of the side we have and what cricket we want to play and hanging our hat on and if we are able to do that, who knows what the future holds for us.

Q. Kane, you just spoke about your attack exploiting the change of pace in bowling cutters. How would that change on a fresh wicket in a knockout and have you had a chance to look at the pitch and what did you make of it?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Yeah, I haven't actually seen the pitch just yet. Obviously, we will have a look fairly shortly. How that will change, I won't know until we see the pitch. Without a doubt, it will change, so it is important we do look to adapt quickly like we have done on other surfaces with bat and ball.

Q. In the last few months if there is a bowling unit that has reduced Indian top order to 18-3 or 18-4 it's been New Zealand, even in the warm-up game we saw what New Zealand can do. There is bit of rain around. How do you see the New Zealand fast bowlers targeting the Indian batsmen? Do you think there is a bit of a weakness there in the Indian top order where your fast bowlers can exploit the top order and expose the middle order?
KANE WILLIAMSON: Conditions are a big part of that question and on the ones that we have been successful, in that respect, we have been able to exploit those conditions and I think you come up against any opposition where the ball is moving, whether it is off the surface or in the air, then you do have the opportunity to take early wickets and everybody goes into the game with a desire to do that.

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 are dealt with because we know that it is very important, obviously India have a very good batting line-up, so you do need to try and dismiss them in order to keep either (a) a total low to chase, or whether that is batting first and defending.

Q. Kane, the batting reliance on you at various points throughout this tournament, is there ever a sense that that is a burden or is it something you relish, that so much of the team's fate rests with you?
KANE WILLIAMSON: No, I think there's also been a number of other contributions that have been really important in order for us to get to where we are right now, whether that's a lower score in terms of an individual still being very significant for us chasing totals down which we have done well in the earlier stage of the competition and from my perspective, it's going out trying to play my role as best I can to help move the team forward and that doesn't change going into tomorrow and you are always wanting to contribute more.

You never sort of put a number on it. That is why we all practice as hard as we can to try and make those contributions bigger and better.

Q. Finally from me, what is your plan to bring down Rohit Sharma?
KANE WILLIAMSON: There's a lot of parts to that and as a bowling unit, first and foremost, it's assessing conditions. Rohit has been clearly the stand-out batter in this tournament so far and been batting beautifully.

But, as we know, we come 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's been superb throughout the tournament.

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