New Zealand have reached their first ever Cricket World Cup final after an incredible semifinal win over South Africa in Auckland. After six previous failures at this stage, the 2015 co-hosts finally battled to victory.
New Zealand clinched their first ever World Cup final appearance after beating South Africa in a stunning semifinal in Auckland on Tuesday. The Black Caps won by four wickets with one ball remaining in the rain-delayed match, after an inspired innings from Grant Elliot, who won the game with a six on the penultimate ball.
Coming into this semifinal neither of these two southern hemisphere sides had ever played in a World Cup final, and it looked like South Africa might struggle again when they made a slow start having won the toss and decided to bat. With the score at 31-3, a partnership was what AB de Villiers' side needed and Francois du Plessis, alongside Rilee Russow, delivered bringing the score to 114 before Russouw was caught superbly by Martin Guptil off the bowling of Corey Anderson.
Inspired Kiwi bowling had South Africa's score creep up to just 150 after 32 overs - du Plessis made 50. South Africa then burst into life, hitting 65 runs off six overs, but were forced off by rain. When they returned an hour later, momentum was lost but only briefly. Another flurry to finish - 59 runs from the final four overs - left South Africa on 281-5, which was converted into 297 thanks to the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Elliot sees Kiwis home
New Zealand openers Brendan McCullum and Martin Guptil got off to an electric start, scoring 71 runs from the first six overs with McCullum racing to 59 off 29 balls. The solid start ended when Morne Morkel took a couple of wickets, but Ross Taylor and Guptil put New Zealand back on top before the pair were out and New Zealand had two new batsman at the wicket with the score just past 150.
Corey Anderson and Grant Elliot took the score from 149 to 252 in just over 16 overs as New Zealand looked to be on their way to victory. An inspired over from Morkel though changed things. Four dot balls after conceding a single ended with the dismissal of Anderson on 58, and the Kiwi's on 252-5.
Another wicket fell and Elliot was dropped by a substitute fielder on the final ball of the penultimate over, leaving New Zealand needing 12 runs from the last six balls.
Daniel Vettori's efforts meant that five runs were required from the final two balls for New Zealand to win, although four would have seen them tie which also would have seen New Zealand through because of finishing higher in the group stage. Fittingly, Elliot sent New Zealand to their first ICC Cricket World Cup Final with a six off Steyn's penultimate ball.
"I don't think this win is for myself or the team, but everyone here," said man of the match Elliot (84 not out) after the game. "The supporters have been amazing."
New Zealand will now play either India or Australia in the final on Sunday. The second semifinal takes place on Thursday morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with the start time expected to be 3:30 UTC.