Black Caps edge South Africa in pulsating semi-final
“Thinking was the enemy of doing,” declared Black Caps batsman Grant Elliott who, with spin bowler Daniel Vettori – “two creaking 36-year-olds” – faced the task of making 12 runs off six balls in the last over of the Cricket World Cup semi-final at the Eden Park cauldron Tuesday night.
“After victory over South Africa in four dramatic acts,” writes Melbourne Age Chief sports columnist and associate editor Greg Baum, “New Zealand are in the World Cup final for the first time. For the Kiwis, it is exorcism after six losing semi-finals, for the poor old South Africans further haunting. For them, defeat was made more cruel by the fact that it was an emigré from South Africa who drove home the final nail. Grant Elliott, in all its senses a journeyman, blithely clouted the second last ball of the match – delivered by Dale Steyn, no less – over long-on for six to consummate a memorable triumph.”
“More than ever, they present as a team of destiny,” said Baum. “New Zealand’s cricket has been compelling in this tournament, sweeping up the country, making believers of sceptics and evangelists of believers. The Black Caps were literally the talk of the town in Auckland. This year, it would be different. But always when a good New Zealand cricket team emerges, a sense lingers that like a fable from Middle-earth, it will finish in a moment, and the lights will go up. Not this time; these Kiwis are for real.”
The Eden Park crowd travelled from agony to ecstasy in several turns through the pulsating match. “Brendon McCullum, New Zealand personified, introduced the third act thunderously with a 22-ball 50, for him in this tournament the going rate. Three times he crashed Steyn for six, prefiguring the night’s dirty end for the great South African. Don’t write this off as Eden Park’s mini-boundaries; McCullum was clearing them on a scale that Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson would not dare to script.
“”When in doubt, go for aggression,” McCullum had declared at the toss, not so much motto as philosophy. The crowd played its appointed part; all day, the South Africans bowled and hit into the teeth of its roar. The Eden Park stands heaved and bellowed as they cannot have since the 2011 rugby World Cup final,” concluded Baum.
Article Source: The Age, Greg Baum, March 25, 2015
Image Source: Twitter/BlackCaps