Emotions ran high and tears were shed in both dugouts at the end of the highly anticipated semi-final clash between New Zealand and South Africa on Tuesday, 24th March.
One side felt a familiar pain while the other couldn’t be more ecstatic, having entered their first World Cup final. A full capacity Eden Park at Auckland saw their local heroes emerge as winners in a game where nobody could pick the winner till the match actually ended.
Batting first, South Africa found themselves in a bit of a fix when they lost their openers early. However, captain AB de Velliers (65*) and Faf Du Plessis’ (82) fourth-wicket partnership of 103 runs from 73 balls powered them to an imposing total of 281 in a rain-reduced contest.
Once play resumed, the Black Caps had their task cut out: to go all out and achieve 298 runs from 43 overs, as decided according to the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Captain Brendon McCullum (59), once again got his team to a flying start and came down heavily on South African bowlers, especially Dale Steyn. However, the day belonged to the power hitting of Grant Elliot (84*) who stitched a 103-run partnership with Corey Anderson (54) and calmly took his side towards the much awaited victory.
However, what hurt South Africa more was their own pathetic outing in the field with catches being dropped, run-outs being messed up and boundaries not being saved, along with a definite stroke of bad luck!
South Africa bowed out of the World Cup yet again, however, English batsman Kevin Pietersen summed up the match very aptly on Twitter, saying, ‘AB led the team wonderfully well. South Africa DID NOT CHOKE! They got beaten by a better team today.’