Auckland, March 24: An ecstatic New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum believes his team and everyone who witnessed the edge-of-the-seat cricket World Cup semifil match against South Africa at the Eden Park here on Tuesday will surely remember the match for the rest of their lives.
In a rain-curtailed match, New Zealand clinched the encounter with a delivery and four wickets to spare after the target was revised to 298 from 43 overs (Duckworth/Lewis).
“It’s pretty amazing. South Africa gave as good as they got all day. The game was outstanding, great advertisement for cricket. I am sure everyone that was here will remember this for the rest of their lives,” said McCullum at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“I know that our boys will. We will give ourselves a chance at World Cup glory which is a fine achievement, really proud of all the boys’ efforts.”
Asked about the rain delay before which South Africa skipper AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis were clobbering the Black Caps bowlers to all parts of the ground, McCullum said: “I wished it kept raining”.
“They were obviously setting it up quite nicely and there were two set batsmen and two very destructive batsmen at the crease as well. I still looked at the innings and the way we kept giving in the field, the way we bowled I still thought we were controlling everything we possibly could.”
Speaking about middle-order bat Grant Elliot, who smashed a match-winning unbeaten 84 off 73 deliveries to help New Zealand book a place in the fil for the first time, the skipper said: “We just knew we just needed to hang in there and even with the bat as long as we could hang in there we gave ourselves a chance towards the end. What a great innings from Grant.
“Came out of the wilderness not long ago and he’s just played a match-winning innings in the semifils and the partnership he had with Corey (Anderson), just such calmness about them as well. It’s a tremendous achievement from them and all the boys.”
The 33-year-old, who scored a blistering 59 of 26 balls, said they now will want to go a step better and clinch the trophy on March 29 in Melbourne. However, he feels it will be difficult when they play Australia or India in the fil.
“The crowds that have turned up, support this team and the brand of cricket we are trying to play. It’s been phenomel. I hope they are all dreaming as much as what we are. We’ve got a huge occasion in a few days time and it will be nice to win it,” said McCullum.
“We don’t mind (the opposition). Both are quality teams that are playing the other semifil. We know that if we play the cricket that we can, then we will have a good chance. But we’ll worry about that after tonight.” IANS