Kiwis break nine-year dry spell and reach finals of the ICC World Cup 2015
One of the most amazing matches of this ICC World Cup 2015 was witnessed when two of the very best teams, New Zealand and South Africa, came face-to-face at the semi-final stage in Eden Park on 24th March, 2015, Tuesday. It was a match between legends: Brendon McCullum against AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn against Trent Boult. Both the teams had proven themselves as the most deserving contender of the ICC World Cup before, as they have already appeared in nine World Cup semi-finals, but were sadly never able to make it to the final showdown. Surely, it was decided even before the match that the saddest part of their cricket history would be closed for one of them, with the winning team definitely appearing in the final of the ICC World Cup 2015.
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Black Caps New Zealand came to play the semi-final with great confidence in their pockets as they continued their undefeated streaks in last nine ODI matches, whereas, South Africa was also fully charged after their overwhelming performance in the quarter-final against Sri Lanka, which made them a potential winner of the ICC World Cup 2015 even after the notable group-stage defeats against India and Pakistan. The very last time both the New Zealand and South Africa came to a face-off against each other four years ago in the knockout stages. In the previous encounter in quarter-final four years ago, New Zealand defeated hot-favorite South Africa by 49 runs in Dhaka.
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While talking about his team’s performance and potential before the match, McCullum said, “I sort of find that being too stressed out doesn’t help that much, so might as well just relax and look forward to the opportunity to go out there and represent your country again tomorrow in obviously a really big game.” He added, “It’s a great stage to be a part of. It’s what you play the game for, all the trainings that you do all the time away from home, all the hard work and sacrifice that you make. This is what you do it for, so we’ve got that opportunity tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to it. The boys are pretty excited.” On the other hand, AB de Villiers, behalf of South Africa, stated, “It would be silly to focus too much on the cricket they’ve played. They’ve played really well but if we play to our full potential, no one is going to stop us. I need to make sure they are confident mentally and fresh physically.”
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Tuesday’s semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa was played on Tuesday March 24 at Eden Park, Auckland where South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first. Earlier this week, Grant Elliott said about Eden Park’s pitch, “Players can get sucked in by the short boundaries and scores have tended to be lower.” With the potential of the pitch in mind, South African Opener Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock came to bat and rotated the scoreboard till Amla was dismissed by a nice delivery from Boult when he was standing at 10 runs. De Kock also lost his wicket when the giant screen showed South Africa standing at just 31 runs with 2 wickets in 7.5 overs. Faf du Plessis and Rossouw started to bat well to give some foundation of the South African innings, but, sadly, Rossouw was also dismissed by Anderson after making 39 runs from 53 balls.
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South Africa’s most dependable batsman AB de Villiers came on ground to make a nice partnership with du Plessis. The duo batted for around 12 overs and had the scoreboard rotating till they hit 217 runs in 38.2 overs, after which du Plessis was nicely taken by Ronchi in a ball of Anderson. Faf du Plessis made 82 runs in 107 balls with 7 boundaries and a nice sixers. David Miller came on strike to replace du Plessis and played on the most needed innings of this semi-final. He made a blustering 49 runs in just 18 balls with the help of 6 boundaries and 3 over boundaries while de Villiers still batting on the opposite end. Miller was dismissed on 43rd over, which was also the last over of South African batting as climate shortened the semi-final by 7 overs. South Africa, with AB de Villiers not out, made a total of 58 runs in last 4 overs and finally scored 281 with 5 wickets down in 43 overs.
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The match was cut short due to a two-hour rain disruption in Auckland and the final target for New Zealand was set at 298 runs in 43 overs as per Duckworth–Lewis method. Martin Guptill and dependable Brendon McCullum came on ground as New Zealand’s opener for the second innings of the match. New Zealand started to make heavy runs in initial overs with McCullum’s superior batting. Black Caps lost their first wicket of McCullum when he was standing at 59 runs in just 26 balls, having smashed 8 boundaries and 4 over boundaries. Williamson came on ground as the replacement but lost his wicket in a superior delivery by Morkel and New Zealand started to feel pressure after losing 2 wickets in 81 runs. Quarter Final’s story maker Guptill also lost his wickets when the scoreboard showed 128 runs, and shortly after, Taylor was also dismissed with a score of 30 runs.