Caricature by Austin Coutinho
Caricature by Austin Coutinho

It was a game a cricket lover wouldn t even want to miss for a million! The first semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was one of the closest run chases in the tournament so far with New Zealand snatching the World Cup final ticket from the hands of South Africa with a four-wicket win by Duckworth Lewis (D/L) method at a sell-out Eden Park in Auckland on Tuesday.

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum hammered a 26-ball 59 to give the team the start as they attempted to chase down a challenging total of 298 from 43 overs. It was a great team effort that saw the Blackcaps triumph as nearly every member contributed to the chase. The key architects apart from McCullum were Corey Anderson and player of the match Grant Elliott. While Anderson s fifty brought them back in the match, it was Elliott s match-winning knock of unbeaten 84 that saw the team through with one ball remaining. Last game s hero, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor contributed 34 and 30 runs respectively as New Zealand became the first finalist of the World Cup in a rain-curtailed match.

After the fall of McCullum s wicket in the sixth over to Morne Morkel, the New Zealand team had others who stepped up for the challenge. Vital partnerships of 47 runs and a match-winning 103 shared between Guptill- Taylor and Elliott-Anderson respectively helped them chase down the target in the 43rd over. Couple of catches and run-out chances were missed by South Africa as the match went down to the wire with five needed from two deliveries but a six in the penultimate ball from Elliott off the bowling of Dale Steyn, crashed the Proteas hopes. Elliott lead New Zealand to a victory and an entry to their first World Cup final. Morkel was the star bowler for South Africa, taking three essential wickets, that of McCullum, Kane Williamson (6) and Anderson for 59 runs.

Earlier, after losing the openers Hashim Amla (10) and Quinton de Kock (14) by the eight over to Tim Boult, South Africa pulled up their socks to showcase a remarkable turnaround as Faf du Plessis (82) and Rilee Rossouw (39) steadied the innings. Captain AB de Villiers was once again among the runs with a 45-ball 65 not out but it was David Miller s 18-ball 49 run blitzkrieg that stole the show and guided South Africa to a imposing 281 runs in 43 overs after the game was reduced to a 43-overs-a-side contest.

Brief scores:

South Africa 281 for 5 in 43 overs (Faf du Plessis 82, AB de Villiers 65*, David Miller 49; Trent Boult 2-53, Corey Anderson 3-72) lost to New Zealand 299 for 6 in 42.5 overs (Brendon McCullum 59, Grant Elliott 84*, Corey Anderson 58; Morne Morkel 3-59) by four wickets