New Zealand squeak through to first World Cup final
Grant Elliott hits a six off the second-last ball to seal a dramatic win over South Africa
New Zealand have reached their first World Cup final after a thrilling four-wicket victory over South Africa.
In a semi-final match affected by weather, the Black Caps were set a rain-adjusted target of 298 after South Africa had reached 281-5, batting first in a match that was reduced from 50 to 43 overs.
Like New Zealand, South Africa have never made a World Cup final, and they began hesitantly with both Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock falling cheaply to the bowling of Trent Boult. But Faf du Plessis rescued South Africa with a patient innings of 82 and was ably supported by AB de Villiers's unbeaten 65 and a quick-fire knock from David Miller of 49 in just 18 balls.
An interruption for rain during South Africa's innings brought into action the Duckworth-Lewis system and the adjusted target given to New Zealand was 298. Captain Brendon McCullum began the Kiwis' reply in barnstorming fashion, smashing 59 from just 26 balls, but when he fell to Morne Morkel, the New Zealanders lost momentum and the match became increasingly tight as the innings progressed.
A century partnership between Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott proved decisive, and though the former was dismissed for 58 when New Zealand were still 46 from their target, Elliott kept his composure.
With 12 required from the last over, Elliott and Daniel Vettori combined to see New Zealand home, with Elliott smashing a six of the penultimate ball to the despair of South Africa. Awarded the Man of the Match award for his unbeaten 84, Elliott declared: "It is great. I don't think this win is for myself, or the team, it is for everyone here. The support has been amazing."
Captain Brendon McCullum echoed those sentiments, praising the team spirit that withstood the immense pressure of the occasion. "These boys, I am so proud of them," he said. "A lesser team would have laid down today. To see Grant come in and be as calm as he was... we've given ourselves a chance of the big prize."
To win the 'prize' on Sunday, New Zealand will have to beat the winners of tomorrow's semi-final between Australia and India. McCullum can't wait for the showdown. "We've got one shot at glory now," he said, "and we look forward to Melbourne."