Cricket World Cup final: Williamson says NZ ready for England

Kane Williamson
England have won seven of their last nine ODIs against New Zealand, including a 119-run victory in the group stage earlier in the World Cup.
ICC Men's Cricket World Cup final - England v New Zealand
Venue: Lord's Dates: Sunday, 14 July Time: 10:30 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website. Live TV coverage on Channel 4 & Sky Sports

New Zealand will "keep their feet on the ground" as they bid to upset England and win their first World Cup, says captain Kane Williamson.

The Black Caps overcame India on Wednesday to secure a place in the showpiece at Lord's on Sunday.

Williamson played in the World Cup final four years ago, in which New Zealand were thrashed by Australia.

"I think anything is possible. It's a really special occasion tomorrow," Williamson said.

"All different thoughts can go through your mind but certainly where myself and the group come from, it's keeping your feet on the ground and looking to play the sort of cricket to give yourself the best chance.

"At the end of the day, it still is a cricket match."

New Zealand lost heavily to England in the group stages but their impressive win over India at Old Trafford will give them confidence.

They made a strong start to the tournament and were top of the table at one point, but they lost their last three matches to Pakistan, Australia and England.

Despite reaching the final in successive tournaments, New Zealand are often given the 'underdog' tag - even though they arguably have one of the best bowling attacks in the game.

They also have, in Williamson, a world-class batsman who has been responsible for pulling the side out of trouble on several occasions.

When asked about being underdogs, Williamson said: "Whatever dog we are, it's important we focus on the cricket we want to play.

"It's shown over the years that anybody can beat anybody, regardless of breed of dog.

"I think England rightly deserve to be favourites."

'It's very much Kane's side now'

Kane Williamson and New Zealand team-mates
Williamson has scored 548 runs so far during the World Cup, breaking the New Zealand record for a player at a single World Cup

All four matches at Lord's in this World Cup have been won by the side batting first, although there was a tinge of green on the pitch on Saturday.

New Zealand's openers have struggled and Henry Nicholls did not take the field at Old Trafford because of a tight hamstring.

Neither New Zealand or England have won the men's World Cup before - the Black Caps reached the final for the first time four years ago, while hosts England last contested the final in 1992.

It was New Zealand's hammering of England four years ago in Australia, where England were bowled out for 123, that sparked the revival of Eoin Morgan's side.

Ex-Black Caps wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, who was captain in 2015, greeted Morgan and Williamson with a hug at Lord's.

"It's very much Kane's side now," McCullum, 37, told BBC Sport.

"Whilst there's still a couple of elements of the side I captained, it's very much in Kane's control now.

"It's great for world cricket that these two teams in particular, who play the game the right way, have managed to make it through to the final."

Williamson, who captained England opener Jonny Bairstow at this year's Indian Premier League, said the side was "very different" to the one that played four years ago.

"We have a very different group, a slightly different vibe and ethos and how we operate.

"At the same time there's a real commitment to that, which is a very positive thing."

And, when asked if the pressure was off his side because of England's status as favourites, his answer, delivered with a grin, was: "Well, we're quite keen on winning as well!"

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