New Zealand has defeated South Africa in a dramatic semi-final encounter, securing a place in the finals of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. This will be the first time the Black Caps will appear in a World Cup final to be played in Melbourne.
The Kiwis, chasing 298 with a required rate of more than six runs per over, won the contest off a six hit by Grant Elliott in the last over.
The target score had been adjusted after rain affected gameplay, and the number of overs was restricted from 50 to 43.
Elliott’s unbeaten 84 earned him man of the match. His winning strike came off the penultimate ball of Dale Steyn’s over.
New Zealand will now face either Australia or India, who will meet each other in their semi-final game in Sydney on Thursday.
South Africa, batting first, lost their three wickets quickly; but the partnership put on by AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis placed them in a commanding position. In the 38th over, the match had to be stopped due to rain. South Africa’s score was 216-3.
With a two-hour delay, the number of overs was reduced to 43. South Africa finished with 281, with David Miller firing a quick 49 from 18 balls. Du Plessis scored 82 runs.
An adjusted target of 298 – based on Duckworth/Lewis method – was set for New Zealand.
The Kiwi skipper, Brendon McCullum, scored a fierce 22-ball half century. After they lost four wickets, the partnership between Elliott and Corey Anderson lifted them from 149/4 to 252/5.
A dropped chance of Elliott and a couple of run-out opportunities gone begging only made matters worse for South Africa.
Down to the last over, Elliott sent the ball into the stands on the second last delivery, sealing the victory for his side and paving the way for their first ever World Cup final.
Elliott, accepting the man of the match award, said, “I don’t think this win is for myself, it’s not for the team, but it’s for everyone here. The support has been amazing. I think we timed the pace of the innings to perfection. When you’ve got 40,000 fans screaming at you every ball, it’s been an absolute pleasure playing at Eden Park. We’ve had a good run. It’s the first final we’ve been in. We’re a very level team. i think we’ll just approach it as every other game.
“What was going through my mind at the end? Nothing. I don’t even know where the ball went.”
Shane Warne posted on Twitter, “What a game of cricket in NZ, please hold your heads high South Africa, you’ve done everyone proud as you gave it absolutely everything!!”
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