Just how exactly do you do it, New Zealand? How do you end up in successive World Cup finals? How do you produce the world's kindest cricketer, who also happens to be one of best all-format batsmen, and who could become the first New Zealand captain to lift the World Cup? How do the Black Caps remain so at peace in their body language, words, and work ethics on the eve of the biggest match of their careers?

If you have followed Kane Williamson's New Zealand in this World Cup, you will ask those questions because this is the team no one expected to make the final - from among the four semi-finalists at least. Yes, Brendon McCullum's team did stride into the 2015 final, but that tournament was co-hosted in New Zealand and the team played most of their matches at home. This time the best prediction for New Zealand was that they would finish in the last four with two of the other three - England, India and Australia - as the finalists.

Yet it was New Zealand who arrived first at Lord's, two days before the final. On a gorgeous summer's day, the Lord's green dazzled under a bright sun. It might have been a morning for sun-bathing, but Williamson and his troops did not mind a light net session, which was optional.

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There is a sense of serenity about New Zealand. Even on the eve of their semi-final against India, hours away from the high-pressure match against one of the two World Cup favourites, there was an arresting sight. Williamson and the rest of the batting group sat under the Brian Statham end, some cross-legged, some hands on knees, some reposing on the turf. Williamson was speaking, quietly, no emotion, no hand movement, picking grass, slightly nervous perhaps as he is not a great orator. But his batsmen listened intently. The whole setting had a commune-like resemblance.

"We just turn up and try and get better every day. That's all you can ask of everyone. I don't think we overly focus on the end result. I don't think we get too wrapped up in having to win or having to lose."
Gary Stead

If Williamson is the guiding spirit of New Zealand, Gary Stead, their head coach, is the steady hand at the wheel. In 1990, Stead was part of the groundstaff at Lord's. "You had different duties when you turned up," Stead said at the media briefing on Friday, recounting the experience with a big smile. "One of them was pavilion duties, where you got to clean the windows, take the mail around, selling scorecards, little bit of scorebox duty as well, which was pretty cool."

Stead, who was reportedly a firm hand during his time as Canterbury coach, has mellowed. If you heard him today, you would want him around on the biggest day of your life. On the day you have an exam, or are taking a motor-riding test. Or playing a World Cup final.

New Zealand are the underdogs, but for Stead, they just need to be "a little bit better" than England on Sunday. Just like New Zealand were in the group stages and made the knockouts despite losing their final three matches. "There is a real fight and steeliness in the way we have played. We are really aware we don't have to play the perfect game, but what we do have to do is adapt to the conditions that are in front of us.

"When you strip it all back it is just another game of cricket and that's how I guess we want to treat it as well. There will be a winner at the end of it. There will be a loser at the end of it. You will have one team that will be happy. You will have one team that will be disappointed. So we are just trying to keep things as real as we can."

Stead is aware of the enormity of the event. New Zealand will be awake, watching the World Cup final past midnight. The match, just like in England, will be broadcast on free-to-air TV. As much as he might try to be realistic, the hopes of millions of fans back home will be high.

But Stead feels hosts England are the ones who might feel the pinch, despite Eoin Morgan's men bouncing back strongly after successive defeats in the middle stages of the group phase. "There is pressure on both teams. It is how you handle that. The exciting thing is, neither team has won a World Cup. And both have had finals' experience, but you are going to have a different winner than last time. But being that England and India were the two that were being touted as the winners, then may be there's more pressure on them. I don't know."

At the same time Stead acknowledged England's growth as an ODI force since the last World Cup, and the strength of their all-out attack approach. "England have obviously looked at their performances over the last four years and become a real force in world cricket. And that's why they start the game as favourites," Stead said.

But England will ignore New Zealand at their own peril. Their inner steel and resilience have brought them once again to the doorstep of history. They have scrapped this World Cup, but not given up. "We just turn up and try and get better every day," Stead said with a mild chuckle. "That's all you can ask of everyone. I don't think we overly focus on the end result. I don't think we get too wrapped up in having to win or having to lose. We are just going out there and playing to the best we can, and understanding that you don't have to play perfect cricket all the time.

"I had an analogy given to me the other day that I liked. You can play a Par 4 in golf and you can hit it down the middle and then the second one (shot) you hit to the middle of the green and you two putt and get a 4. Or you can hit your driver off the tee and it goes into the rough. Get the next one into a bunker on the side. You can flop onto the thing and sink a 20-foot putt and it's still a 4. So it doesn't really matter how you get there. At times we have shown the ability to do it the second way and that is important."

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo