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24 March 201520:18

New Zealand v South Africa – 6 Defining Moments

Moments that defined the electric first semifinal at Eden Park in Auckland

New Zealand v South Africa – 6 Defining Moments - Cricket News
New Zealand’s semi-final show down against South Africa came laden with expectations.

Expectations from players who all fiercely believed they could claim a place in Sunday’s final, from fans who desperately wished for victory, and from the cricket world which longed for a close encounter between two of the very best sides in the world.

The events that played out at Eden Park surpassed what anyone could have imagined.

Two teams in red-hot form - two teams which had never made a World Cup final - played out one of the all-time greatest World Cup encounters that went down to the penultimate ball.

Here are the key moments and performances that shaped the match:

Southee and Boult: ODI cricket’s best new-ball partnership?

Sent into the field, Trent Boult and Tim Southee started the semi-final as they have every match this tournament – sending down a barrage of near-unplayable pace and swing.

With the roar of a sell-out Eden Park crowd providing the soundtrack, Southee started with a maiden to perfectly set the tone for New Zealand.

The second over saw de Kock edge a ball from Boult only for it to clip Luke Ronchi’s gloves and sail away for four, gifting the Proteas ‘keeper a lifeline.

Then, Hashim Amla edged a Southee delivery high to fine leg, where Boult was just could not get there in time to execute a catch.

Boult made up for it next over, outsmarting the in-form Amla with his late swing, the ball clipping the inside edge of the bat before crashing into the stumps.

The Black Caps needed an early breakthrough and yet again the combination of Boult and Southee provided.

De Kock followed four overs later for 14, another victim of Boult. There were tears in the 22-year-old’s eyes as he left the field.

With the Black Caps on top, the atmosphere at Eden Park was electric, the crowd deafening in its support for the Black Caps.

Rain delays play and spurs Proteas on:

If the start of the innings was all about the menacing bowling of Boult and Southee, the middle and later stages belonged to South Africa.
Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers were both brilliant with knocks of 82 and 65-not-out respectively.

Du Plessis had to weather the full storm of New Zealand’s bowling for his hard-earned knock, coping with the pressure in a way that highlighted his growth as a player since the last World Cup.

When de Villiers strode to the crease with his team 114-3 at the 26-over mark, he made his intentions clear as he looked to attack. He was given a life when Williamson put down a tough chance at cover, before going on to score a barnstorming eight fours and one six.
But it was after the rain came and shortened the Proteas’ innings by seven overs that things really got going. Du Plessis departed immediately after the break, opening the door for David Miller to come storming out with an 18-ball 49 to lift South Africa to 281-5 at the end of 43 overs.

De Villiers took a back seat and let Miller unleash six fours and three sixes in an innings that thrilled the small minority of South Africa fans at Eden Park.

Brendon goes bang:

The Duckworth Lewis calculation left New Zealand needing close to seven runs an over for a place in the World Cup final.

A strong start to achieve what would be a record chase in a World Cup knockout match was necessary and if anyone was going to deliver it, it was the Black Caps skipper.

McCullum blasted 59 from 26 balls, leaving the Proteas shell-shocked and those watching almost feeling dizzy from the rate at which the runs were flowing.

His innings, which included eight fours and four sixes, laid the groundwork for the Black Caps, putting them in a much-stronger position when he departed the crease with the score 71-1 after 6.1 overs.

Missed opportunities:

South Africa was left to lament several costly missed chances in the field in the heart-breaking loss.

The Proteas were for the most part simply brilliant in the field defending 298, producing plenty of athletic work in the field to save runs.
Brilliant catches came courtesy of Faf du Plessis and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

But the Proteas also let several crucial chances go begging. The first came in the 32nd over when de Villiers fumbled the ball as he was about to remove the bails at the non-strikers end. Anderson was well short of his ground but de Villiers fumbled the throw, breaking the stumps with his arms before he grasped the ball.

In the 41st over, De Kock was involved in a similar incident, given a chance but unable to collect the ball cleanly with player-of-the-match Grant Elliott short of his crease.

Then, in the 42nd over, Farhaan Behardien spilled a catch in the outfield after being distracted by a late dive from teammate JP Duminy.

Cool, calm Grant Elliot and that six:

Before the start of this year, Grant Elliot had not played a one-day international for New Zealand since November 2013.

Now, he is a national hero.

The 36-year-old, who fought his way into the World Cup squad off the back of excellent domestic form, produced a player-of-the-match performance to see his team into the World Cup final.

His knock of 84 off 73 was for the most part cool, calm and collected. He offered several chances in the dying stages – one skied shot that fell away from the fielders and another put down thanks to the collision between Duminy and Behardien, but his experience and confidence shone through as he steered New Zealand home.

The moment when Elliot launched the second-last ball of the match into the Eden Park stands will go down in cricket history.

The fans erupted and the scenes of celebration both on and off the pitch where second-to-none.

The Spirit of Cricket:

When New Zealand finally advanced to a World Cup final, the Black Caps players could have been forgiven for scenes of unbridles joy at Eden Park.

Yes, there was elation, pats of the backs and massive grins all round for the New Zealand, but there was also an abundance of sportsmanship and consolation for the devastated South Africa players.

There was no stronger display of the spirit of cricket than the moment Grant Elliot, fresh of smashing the winning six, bent down to take the hand of Dale Steyn, who had laid down on the pitch after bowling the final delivery.

The Blackcaps know how it is like to lose a World Cup semi-final – they, like the Proteas, have experienced more than their fair share of painful finals losses – and one had to feel that inspired the display of respect shown to their rivals.