Adaptable New Zealand bank on successful template
They all say that you have to play the big matches as if it were just another game. New Zealand might have that covered through their captain Kane Williamson. At the best of the times he is understated and levelled, but when you see that a buzzing phone bothers him more than a question about the perceived lack of ruthlessness in the World Cup final, you know this team is taking it as just another game.
When asked about "the time of their lives" in the World Cup last year, having come up short against "ruthless" Australians, and what lessons they took from there, Williamson said: "Australia are a very good cricket side. They beat us. That's fine. That can happen in cricket.
"From our perspective we want to keep improving as a unit. We are not looking too far down the track, of changing personalities or looking to make drastic changes. We just want to keep taking small steps forward as a team. Hope that brings a consistent improvement. Respect the game, you can win, you can lose. T20 is more fickle than any format. Go into the game, play fearless cricket, and play smart cricket as well."
Apart from fearless cricket, New Zealand have played a lot of canny cricket. Their selections, and success thereof in all four matches, have come as a surprise for others, but it is business as usual for Williamson and coach Mike Hesson. "I think in terms of my perspective and our coach they are not surprises to us," Williamson said. "We are simply trying to pick horses for courses, our best side for the given conditions against the given opposition at that point of time. That certainly won't change."
The success of New Zealand has been the readiness of replacements whenever they are called upon. Mitchell McClenaghan was called in at the last minute in Dharamsala against Australia, and he ended up as the Man of the Match. Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who have not played any game in this World T20, will be a chance here: David Willey has swung the ball in matches in Delhi. Williamson said he didn't need to bother about that.
"They're very much ready to go," Williamson said. "Like I said, we still haven't decided on our side. We will be looking closely at the conditions and the history I suppose of what the wicket has produced and try and pick up a side."
It doesn't rule out the importance of the two main spinners, though. "Our spinners have been brilliant on surfaces that have suited spin bowling," Williamson said. "And perhaps the best track we played on in Mohali, they still played a big part. We're not quite sure what to expect. A few games have been played on it [the Delhi pitch] recently."
A phone kept buzzing, Williamson kept looking at the media manager, and then he provided the most fun answer when asked about the amount of travel New Zealand have had to undertake in playing all their four league matches at different venues. In Dharamsala they got their first look of the pitch on the day of the match. By comparison England have played only in two venues, both of which are hosting semi-finals.
"That's great," Williamson said. "We've been able to see more of India than most opposition sides. It's one of those things. Surely it just happened by co-incidence? They guys embraced it, embraced the flights and enjoyed the variety of hotels."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo