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Kane Williamson hails ‘incredible’ Virat Kohli and ‘best in the world’ India

Barney Ronay at the Wankhede Stadium

Thu, 16 November 2023 at 1:55 am GMT+6·3-min read

In this article:

Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson

New Zealand cricketer

Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli

Indian cricket player

Kane Williamson described India’s one-day international World Cup juggernaut as the best team in the world after a thrilling semi-final in Mumbai, where New Zealand pressed hard but ultimately fell well short of India’s 397 batting first. Victory made it 10 wins in succession for India before the final on Sunday.

“They’re the best team in the world and they’re all playing their best cricket, so that’s tough,” Williamson said. “I think we see in cricket, often it’s surrounded with failure and how you deal with it. The way they’ve played throughout this tournament has been incredible.”

Related: India into World Cup final after Kohli century and Shami see off New Zealand

Williamson was relaxed and reflective in defeat, no great surprise from a cricketer who would be relaxed and reflective in glorious, vein-popping victory too. But there was heartfelt praise for Daryl Mitchell’s warrior spirit as New Zealand’s No 4 produced a stunning innings of 134 at the Wankhede Stadium.

“A phenomenal player and just the ultimate competitor, he goes out there, he loves the occasion and he’s been outstanding for us throughout this whole tournament. And to go out and do what he did today, giving us a chance, albeit a slim chance, but you will take anything when you’re chasing 400, was a fine effort from a world-class player.”

Williamson also paid tribute to Virat Kohli on the day he passed Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries, the dominant image of a dominant day for India.

“If you play 50 games, some people would call that a great career, but to get 50 hundreds. There’s a lot of attention and that comes with a lot of his success, but actually it was always about pushing his team forward. So he’s the best isn’t he? And he seems to be getting better, which is a worry for opposition all around the world. It’s incredible really.”

The match had been marked by controversy around the Wankhede pitch, with the chosen International Cricket Council strip abandoned because of an unspecified problem and the match staged instead on an adjacent twice-used pitch. “It was a used wicket but a pretty good surface really, as we saw,” Williamson said. “I mean, they got plenty out of it in the first half of the match.”

The India opener Shubman Gill was similarly nonplussed, refusing to be drawn at all on the subject of the pitch after scoring an unbeaten 80, interrupted by a retirement because of cramp.

Gill had kicked off the day as part of a viral video clip released by Star Sports in which he interviewed the singer Dua Lipa, a measure of the star wattage of India’s cricketers (it is hard, at this juncture, to imagine Ben Duckett being asked to do something similar).

He ended it recovering from a hamstring injury he put down to a recent outbreak of dengue fever, but confirmed that he would, like the rest of the nation, be ready for the final on Sunday.

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