Today in a packed Eden Park, South Africa took a heartbreaking stumble in a semi-final of a cricket World Cup when New Zealand snatched a win, as they systematically chased down a victory target of 298 from 43 overs.
The merciless annihilation of Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals, being their first knockout win at a World Cup, would have been enough to boost the Protea’s confidence ahead of the semi-final. This was evident when they scored an impressive 281 for five from 43 overs.
The match which had appeared beyond New Zealand’s reach after the rain had the resulted in the number of overs reduced by 7 while increasing the target by 17 runs.
New Zealand’s opening batsman Brendon McCullum set the innings up with an 11 plus run rate when he smashed South Africa’s leading strike bowler Dale Steyn all round the field.
One could say the victory was written in the stars for New Zealand as Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson both received let offs via uncharacteristic fielding errors by the Proteas.
JP Duminy crashed into Farhaan Behardien who had lined up the ball and was poised to secure the all important catch for Elliot’s wicket. While De Villiers had a chance to break the Elliott-Anderson partnership with a run out when he dropped the ball and removed the bails with his hand, with Andersonin no man’s land.
De Villiers said the team had badly wanted to take the World Cup back home. “It hurts quite a bit, we had our chances and we didn’t take them” said the Proteas captain who was in tears at the post match interview.
De Villiers ruled out using the rain as an excuse, despite South Africa losing seven overs when they had set themselves up for a big charge at the end of their innings.