McCullum revels in Black Caps feat

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Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Brendon McCullum insists he and his New Zealand team are enjoying “the greatest time of our lives” after a thrilling four-wicket win against South Africa in Auckland saw them reach their first ever World Cup final.

Grant Elliott (84 not out) hit a six off the penultimate ball of the match at Eden Park to wrap up victory for the Black Caps, having been set 298 to win via the Duckworth-Lewis method after South Africa amassed 281 for five from their 43 overs following a two-hour rain interruption.

New Zealand will face either fellow co-hosts Australia or defending champions India in Sunday’s final in Melbourne but, win or lose, McCullum says he and his players have enjoyed themselves immensely during the last six weeks.

“I’ve said it time and time again it’s the greatest time of our lives as players,” McCullum, who scored 59 from just 26 balls to give the Kiwis a promising start, said on Sky Sports World Cup.

“We’re enjoying the experience. It’s been an incredible ride all the way through.

“The crowds we’ve had turn up in New Zealand and support this team and the brand of cricket we’re trying to play has been phenomenal so I hope they’re all dreaming as much as we are.

“We’ve got a huge occasion in a few days’ time. Geez, it’d be nice to win it.”

New Zealand were stuttering on 149 for four when Elliott and Corey Anderson (58) steadied the ship with a fifth-wicket stand of 103 from 16.2 overs to keep them in the game.

McCullum was keen to pay tribute to his match-winner, adding: ” What a great innings from Grant Elliott. It was wow.

“(He) came out of the wilderness not that long ago and he’s just played a match-winning innings in a semi-final, and the partnership him and Corey had just had such calmness as well. Tremendous achievement from them and all the boys.”

Elliott, born in Johannesburg, insisted the energetic home support had helped New Zealand over the line and he does not expect them to change their approach for the final.

“When you’ve got 40,000 fans screaming at you every ball (it spurs you on),” he said. ” It’s been an absolute pleasure playing at Eden Park and playing in front of the home crowd.

“I think we’ve had a good run and it’s the first final we’ve been in as a New Zealand team. We’re a very level team so I think we’ll just approach it as every other game.”

South Africa captain AB de Villiers (65no) also paid tribute to the Eden Park crowd and insisted his players could not have done more to clinch victory.

“It was an amazing game of cricket. It’s probably the most electric crowd I’ve ever heard in my life so credit to the fans here,” said De Villiers, who shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 103 from 12.1 overs with Faf du Plessis (82).

“They really were here to support their team and I guess the better team came out on top.

“We gave it our best, we left everything out there on the field and I couldn’t ask for anything more from our boys so we don’t go back with any regrets.”

Published: Tuesday 24th March 2015 by The News Editor

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