New Zealand arrive in the semi-finals as the unfancied outsiders of the quartet, but skipper Kane Williamson insists the slate has been wiped clean. The Black Caps lost their last three game in the group stage, to Pakistan, Australia and England, but qualified for the final four on net run rate regardless.
But that indifferent ICC Cricket World Cup form has already been forgotten by the Black Caps – according to the skipper. And Tuesday’s semi-final with India at Old Trafford will see New Zealand, runners-up four years ago, fully confident of toppling the pre-match favourites and returning to the biggest stage in world cricket.
“It's one of those occasions where every team has worked so hard to end up in the last four where, to a certain extent, it all starts again where the day comes and anything can happen," Williamson said.
“All sides have beaten one another on a number of occasions throughout the last few years, so it is a really exciting opportunity for all teams. I think for everybody it sort of starts fresh tomorrow after what was a very tough round-robin stage, and we were certainly expecting that it would be tough.
“It's just a great occasion to be a part of. I know the guys are really excited by the opportunity to go out and try and try and play with that freedom that when we do gives us the best chance.”
For Williamson and opposite man Virat Kohli, Tuesday’s clash sees history repeating itself. Back in 2008, these two sides met in the ICC Under-19 World Cup semis with Williamson and Kohli both skippering their sides.
India emerged victorious that day, with Kohli actually dismissing his opposite man.
Not that Williamson remembers it all that well: “I actually hadn't thought about that at all so I guess that's kind of cool, isn't it, that a few years later, we're here again, perhaps on a slightly different stage, but pretty special and a lot of respects to being able to lead your country out in a semifinal on the biggest stage.
“He (Kohli) used to be an all-rounder I think back in the day, but hasn't bowled as much recently. He was a formidable player, growing up -- that seems odd to say because we were at the same age playing against each other on a number of occasions and then to go into international cricket at a youngish age, then IPL and these different sorts of things.
"It's obviously been a pleasure watching Virat play and evolve into the superstar that he is.”
If the Black Caps are to down India on Tuesday, the key will be getting to their top order.
Rohit Sharma has made history already this tournament, becoming the first man to make five centuries in a single World Cup.
Kohli also made five half-centuries on the spin during the tournament – but Williamson knows the importance of Sharma to India’s success. He added: “There's a lot of parts to (dismissing him) and as a bowling unit, first and foremost, it's assessing conditions. Rohit has been clearly the stand-out batter in this tournament so far and been batting beautifully.
“But, as we know, we come into a semi-final. It is another day where both sides will be trying to adjust to the conditions as quickly as possible and both teams will be looking for early wickets regardless of what their name may be, but, without a doubt, he's been superb throughout the tournament.”
(Inputs from ICC)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine