England favourites but anything possible, warns Williamson - GulfToday

England favourites but anything possible, warns Williamson

England-Players

England’s Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root during nets on Saturday. Reuters

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has no problem that hosts England have been branded favourites for Sunday’s Cricket World Cup final but says anything is possible.

A new 50-overs world champion will emerge at Lord’s after what many consider will be a battle between England’s deep batting lineup and New Zealand’s incisive bowling attack.

England ruthlessly destroyed five-times champions Australia to move to the cusp of their first ever men’s 50-overs World Cup title, while New Zealand’s crafty bowlers defended a small total against two-times champions India in the other semi-final.

“I think England rightly so deserve to be favourites. Coming into this tournament from the start, they were favourites and they’ve been playing really good cricket,” a relaxed-looking Williamson told a news conference when asked if his side were underdogs.

“Whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play and we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody regardless of breed of dog,” he said with a smile.

The canine reference appeared to amuse the Kiwi skipper who was also asked how it would feel to play party-pooper in a match which would be broadcast free-to-air on TV.

“Party-poopers? You talking about dogs again, hey?” he said with a smile.

“Look, we are really looking forward to the occasion and the end point and the result...focussing too much on it, I don’t think, is a positive thing.”

England will expect another flying start from openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, who have combined in four successive century partnerships.

Williamson acknowledged the threat they pose, but said nothing can be taken for granted.

“Those two have been fantastic throughout this whole competition and prior as well,” said the Kiwi batting mainstay.

“There is a huge amount of respect for the match-winners that they have within their side, obviously the top of the order and throughout.

“But the focus for us is very much about the cricket that we want to play and the performance we want to put on the board and if we do that, we have seen throughout this competition that anybody can beat anybody.”

Meanwhile, England captain Eoin Morgan knows New Zealand have the ability to defend small totals and says the hosts will need to replicate their near-perfect game against Australia to prevail in final.

Morgan’s men dished out a ruthless performance against arch-rivals Australia, bowling out the five-times champions for 223 and romping home with nearly 18 overs to spare in a lop-sided semi-final at Edgbaston.

Asked if they would need to maintain a similar standard against the 2015 finalists, Morgan said: “I think we will need to, yeah.

“New Zealand are an extremely tough side, with a lot of experience, a lot of skill. They were the best side in the group stage and they improved, very similar to us, from the group stage to the semi-final performance.

“We are striving to improve on our performance. No doubt they (also) will.”

Morgan does not expect Sunday’s final to be a high-scoring contest and feels the likes of Trent Boult and Matt Henry could prove quite a handful for his batsmen.

“Throughout the tournament the scores have been a lot lower than they have previously here in the last three or four years. Us adjusting to that has been harder work than it normally is,” Morgan said.

“New Zealand have done it brilliantly and Lord’s isn’t ever a high-scoring ground. I’d say tomorrow isn’t going to be a high-scoring ground, so it will be a bit of a battle.”

Reuters