New zeal, old foe

Tuesday’s pre-match press conference started in the most atypical fashion with a question referencing the first recorded ascent of Mount Everest, the world`s highest peak, by New Zealand`s Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. 

Before the reporter could finish his question, captain Kane Williamson hurriedly interjected, ‘yes, I remember’, evoking laughter from the assembled journalists and broadcasters. “I think I know the question, I`ll give the answer shortly. I`ll answer it five different ways,” replied Kane, before being interrupted by a burst of screeching microphone feedback.

Williamson, no doubt, knew how to go about it. One would be tempted to draw striking parallels between the ascent of Everest to the difficulty the Kiwis, losing finalists in the last two World Cups, faced in trying to defeat an India side in Dharamsala, who remained undefeated in the round-robin stage. 

New Zealand certainly won’t be among the favourites at Wankhede, where they will have to conquer longstanding problems of a lack of penetration with the ball and an inability to up the run-rate in the final stages of an innings if they are to beat the world’s top one-day side. 

Also Read: The unbeatables, underdogs, and everything in between

Williamson, though reminded that ‘anything can happen’, if they play to their potential.”The underdog thing, from what you guys write I do not think it has changed too much, but that is fine, and India have been exceptional,” said the33-year-old, who spent a long time on the sidelines after injuring his knee at the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year and returned only in the World Cup after a long recovery process.

However, he insisted that the semifinals would place every side on an even keel and the Kiwis have as much chance as their opponents. If only it were so simple. 

Looking to make up for years of knockout heartbreaks, Williamson and Co. will hope to prey on any pressure India faces in front of the home crowd on Wednesday. 

For India, a win is non-negotiable and the Black Caps can play all-out cricket knowing that they really have not much to lose.

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