|Ground:||Eden Park, Auckland|
|Scorecard:||New Zealand v South Africa|
|Player:||JP Duminy, DW Steyn, CJ Anderson, GD Elliott, BB McCullum, DA Miller, AB de Villiers, RR Rossouw, F du Plessis|
|Event:||ICC World Cup 2014/15|
DateLine: 24th March 2015
After the somewhat drab games in the quarter finals, New Zealand and South Africa delivered a spectacle to the fans in Auckland and world over.It was a contest between equals which refused to end until the last over. In a nail-biting finish, New Zealand made it to the finals by 4 wickets. New Zealand must thank Grant Elliott for an incredible innings which paved the way for the Kiwis to their first-ever World Cup final.
Emotions and pressure always play a part in high pressure knockout games and this one was no different. Chasing a revised target of 298, New Zealand managed their nerves better in the final overs. Riding on a thunderous start by Captain Brendon McCullum of 59 runs in 32 balls, the Kiwis inched towards the target with half-century contributions from Elliott and Corey Anderson. Nail-biting final overs and a six in the penultimate ball by Elliott completed New Zealand’s win and the highest run chase by any team in the knock-out stages of a world cup. Dropped catches and missed run outs from a world class fielding side like South Africa again evoked the ‘Chokers’ feeling in every cricket fan.
In the morning, South Africa won the toss and elected to bat. After a steady start, South Africa lost two quick wickets of Amla and de Kock. From there, Rossouw and du Plessis combined to steady the innings. As the rain Gods descended on Auckland, South Africa were 216 for 3 in 38 overs with du Plessis and Captain AB de Villiers at the crease. When the game restarted, the match was reduced to 43 overs per side. With a late flourish from de Villiers and Miller, South Africa finished their innings at 281 for 5 in 43 overs. When the score was revised according to the D/L method, a target of 298 in 43 overs was placed before the Kiwis.
Until yesterday, Grant Elliott would have been regarded as a lesser known cricketer in the New Zealand side but With an unbeaten match-winning knock of 84 runs in 73 balls, Elliott catapulted his name into the history books of New Zealand cricket. He may have to thank the South Africans, Duminy and de Kock for giving him life after life in the epic chase. When Elliott smashed Dale Steyn for a six in the penultimate delivery, voice levels reached a crescendo at the Eden Park Ground in Auckland.
“Nothing, nothing, I didn't even know where the ball went”, was his answer to the question on his thoughts on the six. Elliott’s answer signifies the emotions the players on both sides must have been going through in the nail-biting finish.
As the Proteas head back home from the World Cup, the tears on Captain AB de Villiers’ face marks the continuation of the ‘chokers’ tag. But all eyes will now be on New Zealand, who will be leaving their home country and travelling to Australia to play a World Cup final for the first time in their history. Even their eyes will be glued to a TV screen to know their opponent in the final when, India and Australia lock horns in an epic clash at the SCG on 26 March.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2015 Arun S Kaimal)