New Zealand captain Kane Williamson praised the “heart” shown by his players after they defeated India by 18 runs to secure a return to the Cricket World Cup final (New Zealand 2/1 Outright Winner).

The Black Caps were underdogs going into their semi-final showdown against India at Old Trafford given that they only qualified for the last-four courtesy of a superior run-rate to Pakistan.

And, after bad weather on Tuesday resulted in the New Zealand having to return on Wednesday to complete their 50 overs, the situation looked bleak as they posted 239-8 with Ross Taylor the top-scorer on 74 runs.

However, the 2011 winners were reduced to 5-3 in their quest to chase down the 240 victory target as KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and captain Virat Kohli were all dismissed for just one run.

Further wickets left India reeling on 24-4 and 92-6, before Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni produced a 116-run partnership to threaten a remarkable victory as they required 37 runs from 18 balls.

Jadeja’s dismissal on 77 halted their progress and, while Dhoni hit a defiant six off the first ball of the 48th over, his run-out by Martin Guptill on 50 effectively ended their chances at 216-8.

Tail-enders Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal were quickly removed as India finished on 221 all out to leave New Zealand looking to go one better than being losing finalists in 2015 when they face either hosts England or defending champions Australia (England 4/5, Australia 6/5 – Match Winner) at Lord’s on Sunday.

The Black Caps eased into the final four years ago having won all eight matches before losing by seven wickets against the Aussies.

Ahead of their return to the final, Williamson has praised the battling qualities his players have shown in this tournament and says there is a different feel around the squad than four years ago.

He said: “It’s a different feeling to last time (2015). We’ve had to skin it over the round-robin, so it’s been quite different.

“A lot of heart has been shown by the guys so far but we’re keeping our feet on the ground.

“It was a great semi-final and we’re happy to be on the right side of it.”

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