Best one-day game ever?

11:58 pm on 24 March 2015

New Zealand's Cricket World Cup campaign has been dominated by hyperbole, but there just about isn't enough of it to describe their victory over South Africa.

New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum celebrates his team's win.

New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum celebrates his team's win. Photo: AFP

Up till last night it was crash, bang, wallop and 'see you later' to the opposition, all against the backdrop of wildly enthusiastic crowds.

The semi-final was tense, nail-biting, frankly, unbelievable.

Unbeaten before this match, and installed as favourites to win the tournament by many, Brendon McCullum's side started as losers after the toss went South Africa's way.

The sinking feeling continued as the Black Caps put down two early catches. Shane Warne, in the commentary box, quickly warned it was a bad sign. Confidence would be lost.

Boult struck about three balls later, Hashim Amla playing on. The danger man was gone, Warnie said.

Quinton de Kock, who looked like a startled fawn in the headlights, tried to buck his way free only to sky one from Boult straight to third man. More antlers for Boult's burgeoning trophy room.

The crowd, like the previous match in Wellington, roared. It appeared to spur McCullum's aggressive instincts on, with five slips in the cordon.

A New Zealand fan poses during the Cricket World Cup semi-final.

A Black Caps fan poses during the semi-final. Photo: AFP

Faf du Plessis and Rilee Rossouw must have had ear plugs in, however, as they went about their unsmiling business. These were crucial moments. The sun shone and the ball got hit harder.

The rangy figure of Martin Guptill interrupted South Africa's business time briefly, taking a sharp catch but that only brought AB de Villiers to the wicket. Du Plessis started to smile; it quickly became clear why.

De Villiers was licking his lips as Corey Anderson rolled in and offered up an entree of tripe before the dinner break. There were chances, but they were spurned. Our fielding was not what it has been.

Relief came from an unexpected place - the clouds. The weather gods, the Black Caps owe you some thanks. After a nearly two-hour rain break the players returned, only for Du Plessis to depart two balls later.

Anderson was the wicket taker but, after serving the entree, he served up some pudding; the South Africans loved the sweet stuff too.

They finished 281/5 off 43 but then the Duckworth-Lewis system made it more complicated; pure quackery.

McCullum then went a bit nuts: Crash, bang, wallop. A flex of his bicep and he had 51 off 22. The crowd helped him lift the weight.

Black Caps' captain Brendon McCullum.

McCullum was an early casualty of the match. Photo: AFP

It wasn't quite enough. Eight runs more and he was gone. Williamson, so often the side's backbone, raised his head in disappointment soon after, playing on for 6. You could nearly hear the national in-take of breath.

De Villiers then, inexplicably, offered a helping hand, bringing JP Duminy on in place of the brilliant Imran Tahir.

It gave Taylor and Guptill a chance to settle, make inroads. Things were looking great but then Taylor, whose running between the wickets has been poor during the tournament, called Guptill through. He continued on his way to the changing room.

Taylor needed to bat through. He didn't. Strangled down the leg side, New Zealand's chances looked to be suffocating with him.

Anderson likes to breathe though, and free his arms. At the other end Grant Elliott was doing his best Stephen Donald (the Beaver) impression. The crowd sat pensively, chins in hands. Dale Steyn started stroking his hair again.

He stroked it some more when de Villiers muffed a run out chance. He had an age but his hands hit the wickets without the ball. Anderson was saved. The tension got quite unbearable.

Anderson, granite like in appearance, rocked his way to 50 and the Beaver joined him soon after. It was going to come down to the last over.

Morne Morkel heaped the pressure on. Anderson felt it and skied one to square leg.

De Villiers, the captain, stepped up, and grabbed the ball. Elliott sent his short delivery into the crowd.

South Africa's Faf du Plessis (R) sits dejected on the field with teammate Farhaan Behardien after their loss.

South Africa's Faf du Plessis (R) sits dejected on the field with teammate Farhaan Behardien. Photo: AFP

Ronchi couldn't do the same soon after, finding the fielder. Twenty-four needed from two overs.

Elliott skies one and two players collide, the ball drops to the ground.

Four balls left and Steyn pulls up lame. Vettori hits the next ball for four. My god, it stretches belief. Five needed off two. After all of this.

Elliott, man of the match, hits the second last ball for six. New Zealand erupts. We are off to the final.

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