TELFORD VICE, Auckland
SA were dumped out of the World Cup by one of their own in Auckland on Tuesday when Johannesburg-born Grant Elliott played what AB de Villiers called “one of the best shots of his life – probably the best” to win the semi-final for New Zealand.
The Kiwis got home by four wickets to earn a place in the final in Melbourne on Sunday. They will meet the winners of the other semi-final, which will be contested by Australia and India in Sydney on Thursday.
SA scored a competitive 281/5 in the 43 overs their innings was reduced to by rain. New Zealand, their target, revised to 298, replied with 299/6 to record the highest successful chase in World Cup history.
Elliott, who scored an undefeated 84, hoisted the penultimate ball of the match for six to put the New Zealanders in the final for the first time. They have lost six semi-finals in previous tournaments.
“It was a great feeling to look at the team and look at the crowd and savour that moment and realise that we’re through to the finals,” Elliott said.
Elliott, 36, was a surprise inclusion in New Zealand’s Word Cup squad. But the player he replaced, Jimmy Neesham, clearly harboured no hard feelings.
“Holy fucking shitballs this is the best day of my life,” Neesham tweeted after the match.
De Villiers, too, bore no grudges against his former compatriot.
“Not at all,” he said. “We played against New Zealand, and he played a wonderful knock.
“He’s a sportsman; he gives his best for his team.”
The result marked the fourth time SA have failed to progress past the semi-finals.