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ICC World Cup: Grant Elliott realises his childhood dream

South Africa-born batsman slams unbeaten 84 to hand New Zealand a four-wicket victory at Eden Park

Auckland: New Zealand's Grant Elliott realised a childhood dream when he belted South African speedster Dale Steyn into the stand for six at Eden Park yesterday to get his adopted homeland into the World Cup final.

New Zealand's Grant Elliott picks up Dale Steyn of South Africa after helping his side win their semi-final encounter at Auckland's Eden Park yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
New Zealand's Grant Elliott picks up Dale Steyn of South Africa after helping his side win their semi-final encounter at Auckland's Eden Park yesterday. Pic/Getty Images 

South African-born Elliott gave a brief celebratory wave as the ball sailed into the crowd before running to comfort a distraught Steyn, who lay sprawled on the ground. The winning runs came on the penultimate ball of the rain-affected match where New Zealand were set a revised target of 298 under the Duckworth/Lewis method after South Africa had made 281 for five.

Elliott's 'best shot ever'
The Black Caps will now meet the winner of tomorrow's Australia-India semi-final in Sydney, in Sunday's final in Melbourne. New Zealand needed 12 off the last over to win a thrilling semi-final and Elliott said it was a nerve-wracking experience sealing a four-wicket victory with probably the best shot of his career, given what was at stake.

"I guess it was. I really did feel the pressure," said Elliott, who finished on 84 not out. "I had two balls to try and take us home. I knew that four runs would do it because a tie was as good as a win. I think the chase, we probably left it a little bit late and it was stressful towards the end. It would have been nice to win with an over to go"

Childhood dream
Elliott said he had always wanted to play in a World Cup since 1992 when his mother let him stay home to watch Australia play South Africa in Sydney in what was the Proteas' inaugural appearance at the tournament.

"I got suspended from cricket and from school for a while because I did that, but it left a massive impression on me," said Elliott, who turned 36 last weekend. "I thought that tournament, the coloured clothing and everything was what I wanted to do and it's funny how life works. It's amazing to be at Eden Park today to hit the winning run."

Although Elliott has immersed himself in New Zealand culture since leaving South Africa in 2001, he said he still felt sorry for the Proteas, adding that was why he tried to console Steyn and helped him to his feet.

Rain pain
"You have to feel compassion. Humble in victory, humble in defeat. I felt quite sorry for him. I felt quite sorry for a lot of the South African guys for losing the game," said Elliott, who made his New Zealand debut seven years ago.

"It could have been us. It could have been me sitting there having missed the last two balls and I would have been pretty gutted as well along with 40,000 people in the stadium."

South Africa were on course for a huge total, at 216 for three in the 38th over, when the rain set in. "That was a key moment in the game," Elliott said. "You don't know what they would have scored but it was a very good batting wicket and they were set. But 298 was a tough score in 43 overs as well."

How the last over panned out
A look at the drama which unfolded in the last over of New Zealand's innings. With Grant Elliott and Daniel Vettori at the crease, the Kiwis needed 12 runs off South African pacer Dale Steyn's bowling to enter their maiden final. Even 11 runs would have gotten them through as they had finished on top of Pool A while the Proteas were second in Pool B.

1 ball 12 runs needed
New Zealand's batsmen steal a run despite Vettori swinging and failing to make contact with a slower delivery

2 ball 11 runs needed
Elliott hits a full toss to cover to run a quick single. Steyn suffers a hamstring issue which requires medical attention

3 ball 10 runs needed
Vettori makes room for himself and hits a low yorker outside the off stump from Steyn to the left of third man for a boundary

4 ball 6 runs needed
Vettori fails to connect with a bouncer. The batsmen take a single with de Kock and Steyn missing run out chances at both ends

5 ball 5 runs needed
Elliott smashes a delivery on good length over long-on for a six to take New Zealand to their maiden World Cup final

Turning point
IN a game as big as the World Cup semi-final, one mistake can cost you the game. Quinton de Kock made a blunder that led to South Africa losing out on a place in the World Cup final. With 29 needed from the last three overs, Rilee Rossouw fired an accurate throw that could have run Grant Elliott out. De Kock whipped the bails out, albeit without the ball in his hands. The moment proved to be decisive as Elliott got his side home.

Star of the match
A surprise inclusion in the New Zealand squad for the World Cup, Grant Elliott played the innings of his life yesterday. Elliott walked in at 128 for 3 with still a lot of work left to be done. He quietly went about his business while Corey Anderson attacked the bowlers. He took charge once Anderson was dismissed to eventually finish unbeaten on 84 off 73 balls with seven boundaries and three maximums.

Did you know?
New Zealand's match-winner against South Africa yesterday, Grant Elliott, was once suspended from school and from his school cricket team back in South Africa for bunking classes to watch Australia play South Africa in Sydney in what was the Proteas' inaugural appearance at the World Cup in 1992.

How former players reacted on Twitter...
Jacques Kallis, Former Proteas cricketer
What a great game of cricket. SA did not lose that game. NZ won it. Well played NZ. And to the Proteas you can be proud of your campaign.

Kevin Pietersen, England cricketer
South Africa DID NOT CHOKE! They got beaten by a better team today...AB led the team wonderfully well! But, well done NZ! See you in Sydney!

Scott Styris, Ex-New Zealand player
Congrats South Africa on this performance and your tournament. Quite simply the best match I've ever been to live! Worthy of a final

Shane Warne, Former Aussie spinner
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 !!

Sachin Tendulkar, Legendary India cricketer
Its tough to see a side lose in a match like the semis. Well played South Africa. Big Congratulations to New Zealand for making the ICC World Cup finals and playing amazing cricket...

 

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