Kiwis reach first WC final after thriller

2015 World Cup

New Zealand kept their winning run in tact at this year's World Cup when they beat South Africa by four wickets in their rain-affected semi-final in Auckland on Tuesday, reaching their first ever final in thrilling fashion.

Both sides were competing to reach the final for the first time, and the Proteas recorded 281 for four in 43 overs after rain reduced the game. Duckworth-Lewis adjusted that to 298 for the Kiwis to get in the same overs.

Brendon McCullum smashed a brutal half ton off 20-odd balls to give the Kiwis a great platform, and some poor bowling from the Proteas didn't help their cause. In the end, half tons from Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott made it all too exciting, as they won with one ball to spare.

The Proteas won the toss and elected to bat, knowing their poor record when chasing. With rain around though, it was a risk, and they lost Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock cheaply to Trent Boult's swinging bowling.

Rilee Rossouw and Faf du Plessis then steadies the ship, but not at a very quick pace, which turned out to be crucial. Once Rossouw was out for 39 off 54 balls, Du Plessis and AB de Villiers pushed the score past 200.

The boyhood friends picked up the pace once they saw the clouds gathering stronger, but had to go off the field with the score on 216 for three. De Villiers was on 60 at that point, and Du Plessis on 82, and the overs were reduced as the rain lingered.

When they came back on, they had five overs to get as many runs as possible, and while Du Plessis was out quickly, this left David Miller to shine. He smashed 49 runs off 18 balls, as the Proteas added 65 runs in those five overs.

The score was adjusted to just under 300, which commenters grumbled about given modern batting trends at the death, but it was still a big ask for the Kiwis, despite the small Eden Park ground.

McCullum played a typical knock, all guns blazing, and scored his fifty off 22 balls. This included four sixes, as the Proteas bowlers struggled to find their lines and lengths. He was out after a drinks break, caught at mid on off Morne Morkel.

Morkel was one of the better performers, and also bagged Kane Williamson a short while later, for six, to slow things down a bit. Imran Tahir then bowled well too, as the Proteas slowed the run rate and put on pressure.

Martin Guptill was never comfortable and was run out for 34, and then Ross Taylor was removed for 30 to leave New Zealand on 149 for four. This joy was short-lived though, as Elliott and Corey Anderson put on a vital century stand.

With Dale Steyn struggling with a hamstring niggle, and Vernon Philander bowling poorly, De Villiers had to bowl himself, as well as JP Duminy, for more than he'd have liked. Tahir was the pick though, the only bowler to go for less than five, or even six, to the over.

Anderson's wicket in the 38th over, for 58, and then Luke Ronchi's dismissal gave the Proteas hope again. They will forever rue two run outs though, one by De Villiers who broke the stumps after he dropped the ball, and the other by De Kock, who failed to gather cleanly.

Elliott, born and raised in Johannesburg and school mates with a few of these players, was ice cool though, and with 12 required off the last over, Steyn bowling, he kept his head and hit a six off the penultimate ball to win it.

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