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What sets New Zealand apart? Their ability to understand conditions

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Vettori: Williamson, Taylor can assess conditions better than anyone (2:36)

Daniel Vettori says he wouldn't make any changes to New Zealand's XI, and expects England to go on an all-out attack when Williamson walks in to bat (2:36)

There's real excitement back in New Zealand about the final. Winning the semi-final last time at home meant a lot to everyone and it swept up everyone at the time. But a win away from home to make the final is particularly impressive.

In most recent World Cups, Australia have been dominant and gone in as favourites. I think this tournament at the top end has been a lot more even, with England and India being favourites to start. Then Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan - West Indies to some extent. Upsets were expected from Afghanistan and Bangladesh. So I think it feels like a tougher road to have travelled this time, because of the quality of all the teams on show.

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I think New Zealand will be feeling pretty good on the eve of the game. You hear the stuff Gary Stead said about trying to treat it as another game, and I think because of the experience of 2015, they possibly can.

They will be led by Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Martin Guptill, who are all pretty experienced, and the fact that they have played in a final before will help. They've been there, with all the trappings, the build-up, the emotion. Walking into Lord's and seeing everything that's going on may change that a little bit, but I think that they will be able to stay relatively calm also because they have come in on the back of some good performances.

Back in 2015, no one in the group had that experience, but now the majority of the group have, and those players are the most experienced members of the side. I think they will provide leadership and guidance in how to understand and deal with it. So will some of the coaching staff - Craig McMillan was there and he will play a critical role in the lead-up as well.

Five years ago it was a pretty relaxed build-up. We tried to keep it as low-key as possible, as similar to everything that had gone on previously. Brendon [McCullum] and Hess [Mike Hesson] were big proponents of that - looking at it as just another game. We had been in New Zealand through the tournament, so to get on a plane and go to Melbourne was pretty exciting. I remember Derek Jeter was at the ground, and I got a photo with him. That's what I was most excited about!

I can't remember any nerves. And there was no change of tactics. It was: "We've played some good cricket, let's keep going."

I truly believe that the players are ready to go, and they're pretty comfortable with the situation, though looking on from the outside, there seems to be so much pressure. I don't think they think about the semi-finals record. They'll look at the game in front of them and say, "This is an incredible achievement to get here, but we still have to win it." I think there will be some conversations around mindset, but I don't think they'll get specific about "We have to do this, this, this and this."

In the current team, Taylor, Southee and Guptill are the only ones who have ever lost a semi-final, I think. They've won two and lost one - that's how they'll see it. New Zealand are a very confident semi-final team. The next step is to take it into that final. If this team can go one step further, it will be amazing.

In the semi-final in 2015, Brendon stepped out and smashed Dale Steyn, and that was one of the main reasons we made the final. We all wanted him to do against Mitchell Starc what he did against Steyn, but that didn't happen, of course. And in any case, there are ten other players who're all supposed to stand up and get the job doneā€¦

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After the game, it was business as usual. I took my son to school the next morning. I think my wife made me! She said, "You're going away for a few days, make yourself useful before you go." There were some excited parents at the school.

New Zealand is such a small country, so I suppose you're accessible in a lot of ways. You're not secluded from everything that happens in daily life. I think the guys really love that as well. You can be - "anonymous" is not the right word, but you can be left to your own devices. I think that's a New Zealand thing. The rugby players will probably be the only ones who get adulation, but even that is low-key. People are left alone to work and do their own thing, and people's privacy is respected.

When you look at Kane's captaincy, I think the team has been shaped in his image - pretty low-key and humble. When you're in a tough situation, he is about understanding and figuring out how they can work through it. I think that's the main thing that he has brought to this team: having a game plan to get them out of trouble. When they lost three games in a row, they had a game plan to get a victory against India, and that's testament to Kane. He will remain calm, he will see the big picture rather than panicking in the moment.

He has stayed pretty consistent over the years, and I think he has learned to deal with everything that comes with being a top batsman and leading the team. There will have been some new experiences for him; he was just about being a batsman, but now he is a leader, dealing with everything that comes with that.

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The way Kane goes about things, it's not about "I'm aggressive today" or "I'm defensive today." He just sums up the situation: "This is what we've got to do to win the game." And that permeates through the team.

The ability to understand conditions is, more than anything else, what sets this New Zealand team apart. They just read situations well. They're not confined to one style of play. They adapt, and figure things out on the fly. That's a sign of a good team. I think England are the same: they've done similar things in terms of understanding what is going to work in certain situations and working to that.

Looking at the players, Guptill hasn't had a great World Cup, but I think they will be looking to the Guptill who has played 170 games, who is one of New Zealand's greatest players, been one of the world's best batsmen over the last four or five years. That's the confidence they'll want to build.

Not only Guppy but everyone in the group. When you look at Boult and his improvement - it seems funny to talk about one of the best bowlers in the world as having improved, but I think the way he bowls in the middle now, the way he bowls at the death, those things suggest that there's a general trend of players in the side getting better.

In World Cups, Taylor will perhaps be New Zealand's most successful player: 2007, semi-final; 2011, semi-final; 2015, final; 2019 final. There's no other New Zealand cricketer who has that kind of achievement in World Cups. And I have heard him talk about going to another one, so let's not write him off yet! If this is his last one, hopefully he'll come out a winner.

Tim got injured at a really inopportune time and he missed games, and Matt Henry took his chance, bowled exceptionally well, and has come back even stronger at the back end of the tournament.

Mitchell Santner - he'll far exceed me. I've known Mitch since he was about 12 or 13. He used to come to the nets and bowl to us, and he was impressive from day one. He is just a really talented bowler, and over the years he has learned conditions, learned how to deal with coming up against some of the greatest batsmen, and also dealing with how aggressive everyone is now. I think he has managed his game as well as anyone to be successful in this era.

He has also always been a good batsman. He was a genuine allrounder who opened the batting for Northern Districts back home, and I think his development over the last few years in the spotlight with New Zealand has been incredible.

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Occasionally when spinners are given conditions that favour them, they might look to do something different, and not bowl as consistently well as they have in the past, but I can't remember Mitch bowling a bad ball in that semi-final. It was a wicket that assisted him slightly but he stuck to the plan of trying to take the stumps, mixing his pace up and not giving anything away.

I think he, like any good spinner, trusts the bowling partnerships, so if someone is attacking at the other end, he can be defensive and vice versa, and I think he read that really well and just built and built and built. His six overs for five runs, or whatever it was, was almost the winning of the game in a lot of ways, because it just continued on the work from Boult and Henry.

In the semi-final, New Zealand were all about understanding the conditions - what was going to work and what wasn't. If you take any other attitude, it can catch you out. And I think that's how they'll go in the final. They'll look at the Lord's wicket, they'll look at the overhead conditions, they'll see how Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer are bowling first up, if they are; or see how Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy are batting.

It will be about gaining information. Once again it comes down to the pragmatic question: How are we going to win the game? It will be about reading conditions. It seems almost boring, but I think that's the right way to go about it, and probably the way they will go about it.

As told to Raunak Kapoor