Elliott leads Black Caps into history books

3:53 pm on 26 March 2015

The Black Caps beat South Africa with a six off the penultimate ball to reach the Cricket World Cup final for the first time in an exhilarating and rain reduced semi-final in Auckland.

The New Zealand pair Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliott celebrate their victory during the World Cup Semifinal.

The New Zealand pair Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliott celebrate their victory during the World Cup Semifinal. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With five needed from two balls, number five batsman Grant Elliott hit Dale Steyn into the stands to finish unbeaten on 84 and seal a four-wicket win in Auckland.

Elliott, who was born in South Africa says he tried to remain detached throughout his innings but concedes it was difficult.

"I really did feel the pressure, I had two balls and Dan (Vettori) said we weren't going to run to the keeper again so I knew it was up to me," he said.

"I knew that four runs would do it, because a tie was as good as a win, so that was always in the back of my mind, but the chase, we probably left it a bit late.

"It was stressful towards the end there."

Elliott says he's found the support the team has had from people around the country overwhelming.

"For the fans and the four million people in New Zealand, that win's for them, the support has been overwhelming and there's been a lot of talk about us just making the semis and never quite kicking on.

"So I know it means a lot to the team, but you could see the emotions in the stands, it means a lot to a lot of people."

Elliott and number six Corey Anderson's 58 had lifted the Black Caps from 149-4 in their chase of a rain-adjusted 298.

Ross Taylor and Matt Henry celebrate New Zealand's Cricket World Cup semi-final victory.

Ross Taylor and Matt Henry celebrate New Zealand's Cricket World Cup semi-final victory. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

South Africa had earlier posted 281-5, with Faf du Plessis making 82, in a match reduced to 43 overs per side.

Captain AB de Villiers weighed in with an unbeaten 65 for South Africa and David Miller an 18-ball 49 in a target that was escalated by Duckworth-Lewis, but just within New Zealand's reach.

It was a fourth unsuccessful World Cup semi-final for the Proteas to add to two defeats and the famous 1999 tie with Australia.

For New Zealand, a seventh last-four tie finally yielded a place in the final after six previous losses.

It was earned in a thrilling, fluctuating contest played out in front of a raucous and partisan crowd at Eden Park.

In scarcely believable drama that had echoes of Kane Williamson's six to defeat Australia by one-wicket earlier in the tournament, South Africa-born Elliott smashed Steyn for six over long-on two balls after Daniel Vettori steered a four to the third-man boundary.

Elliott should have been caught from the final ball of the previous over, but his top-edged hook fell to the ground after a boundary collision by JP Duminy and sub fielder Farhaan Behardien.

That South Africa came so close was down to their third comeback of a game that both teams controlled at various points.

The Black Caps were in the early ascendancy thanks to some dangerous swing bowling and electric fielding that reduced South Africa to 114 for three in the 27th over.

Later, they looked to be sprinting through the run-chase when captain Brendon McCullum destroyed the South Africa attack with a 22-ball half-century that included taking 24 runs from a single Steyn over.

South Africa, though, resisted, just as they had earlier through Du Plessis' patience, De Villiers' invention and Miller's explosive power.

Their defiance in the field came with some help from the home side, as McCullum slapped Morne Morkel to mid-on, Williamson pulled the same bowler on to his own stumps and Martin Guptill was run out by Ross Taylor.

Taylor was caught down the leg side from the off-spin of Duminy shortly after, with New Zealand still needing 139 from 22 overs.

They were pulled back into contention thanks to the watchful Elliott, who was strong through the covers, and the force of Anderson in a partnership of 103.

De Villiers missed the chance to run out Anderson on 33, failing to gather the ball at the non-striker's end with the left-hander well short of his ground.

The reprieve was the start of New Zealand's acceleration towards their target, but after Anderson skied Morkel to square leg with 46 still to get, South Africa clawed their way back once more.

The requirement got down to 23 from the final 12 balls, with 11 runs taken from a Morkel over that included the Elliott reprieve.

A tie would have taken the Black Caps to the final because of their superior group record, but Elliott ensured the co-hosts won outright.

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