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NZ beat S Africa in nailbiter to reach Cricket World Cup final

Published:Wednesday | March 25, 2015 | 3:00 AM
New Zealand’s Grant Elliott (right) raises his arms in celebration with teammate Dan Vettori (left),as South Africa's Dale Steyn reacts after they defeated South Africa by four wickets in their Cricket World Cup semi-final in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP):

New Zealand reached their first Cricket World Cup final when Grant Elliott struck a six from the penultimate ball to beat South Africa by four wickets in a cliffhanger semi-final yesterday.

New Zealand came to the last over of a rain-shortened match, needing 12 runs to reach their Duckworth-Lewis target of 298 from 43 overs, and made it with just one ball left at a raucous Eden Park.

In Sunday's final, New Zealand will face either Australia or India, who meet today.

"For the fans and the four million people in New Zealand ... that win's for them," Elliott said.

"There's been a lot of talking about us just making the semis and never quite kicking on, and while I know it means a lot to the team, you could see the emotions in the stands today. It means a lot to a lot of people in New Zealand and, hopefully, we can repay the faith in the final as well."

Earlier, Faf du Plessis made 82, captain AB de Villiers 65 not out and David Miller 49 from 18 balls as South Africa compiled 281-5 batting first, taking 65 runs from the five overs left to them after the rain.

New Zealand chased a revised total of 298 and reached that formidable objective with cricket fans of the two nations holding their breath. The Kiwis were guided home by Elliott, with 84 not out, and Daniel Vettori, seven not out.

South Africa were left despondent by a defeat, which added to their catalogue of woes in World Cup playoffs. Dale Steyn, who bowled the final over, collapsed to the ground in despair when Elliott sent his fifth ball into the stands at long-on.

"I felt we left it out on the field tonight and that's all I can ask of the guys," de Villiers said, his voice cracking with emotion. "We had our chances, especially in the second half of the game.

"Lots of people back home supporting us, we think of all of them and it's so bad. We wanted to take that trophy back home, but life moves on, the sun will come up tomorrow."

Vigorous tempo

Brendon McCullum set the vigorous tempo of the New Zealand chase with an innings of 59 from 26 balls which contained eight fours and four sixes. With Martin Guptill, the captain put on 71 in the first five overs.

No single player commanded the run chase after McCullum was out and the required run-rate grew, at times to the visible alarm of home fans.

Guptill, after his record 237 not out against the West Indies, made 34 before he was wastefully run out in a communication failure with serial offender Ross Taylor, who in turn fell for 30 to a piece of wicketkeeping brilliance by Quinton de Kock.

Corey Anderson made 58 and paired with Elliott in a partnership of 103 but, perhaps in a measure of the Kiwis' anxiety for the win that would finally break their history of six semi-final defeats, it seemed a work more of desperation than authority.