Auckland, March 24: New Zealand’s hero of the cricket World Cup semifinal Grant Elliott said on Tuesday that the winning six he struck off South Africa’s Dale Steyn is the best shot he has played in his entire career. Chasing a revised target of 298 in 43 overs (Duckworth/Lewis), Elliott scored an unbeaten 84 off 73 balls, which included seven fours and three sixes, to help New Zealand achieve the target with four wickets and a ball to spare and thus beat South Africa and reach their maiden Cup final here on Tuesday.
“I guess it is the best shot of my career but I really did feel the pressure. It was a great feeling to look at the team and look at the crowd and sort of savour that moment and realise that we’re through to the finals,” Elliot said at the post-match press conference. He said the 40,000 home fans constantly cheering the Black Caps at Eden Park played a crucial role in the game.
“The crowd was amazing. When you’re out there, someone said it was like a jungle when we played Australia. Fortunately, the Australian game when we played there, we got a taste of what it was like. It’s an amazing crowd, amazing place to play cricket. The guys have played exceptionally well during this World Cup. Our bowlers have set up things quite nicely but Brendon (McCullum) has been batting well. Now (Martin) Guptill, Ross (Taylor) are looking good. We’ve got a very solid team, solid line-up, and then our finishers with (Corey) Anderson and (Luke) Ronchi,” said the 36-year-old.
The Johannesburg-born Elliott is now based in Wellington. He left his native place in 2001 looking for new horizons.
“Yeah, it’s sad that I left South Africa when I did and I had a lot of history there, went to school, played a little bit of cricket, got some good friends there. But New Zealand is my home and pretty excited to have got New Zealand to the final with that shot at the end,” said Elliot. The right-hander said that his teammates are really upbeat about the final at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
“We’ll watch the semifinal and then see who we’re going to face in the final. The guys are just going to be really upbeat and we’ll approach it as we have every other game. It’s obviously a World Cup final and it’s a great opportunity for someone to stand up and win the it for their country which is an awesome opportunity. It’s not a situation that you’ll be in very often in your cricket career,” Elliot added.
The middle-order bat went down memory lane, saying he always wanted to play in a World Cup since the 1992 edition.
“I always wanted to play in a World Cup since the 1992 edition. My mom let me stay at home to watch the first game which was Australia vs South Africa and I got suspended from cricketing at school for a little while because I did that. But that left a massive impression on me. It’s funny how life works. It’s amazing to be at Eden Park today and to hit the winning runs to take New Zealand into the final. It’s been an awesome journey,” he said.