Grant Elliott had not premeditated the shot that propelled New Zealand into their first cricket World Cup final on Tuesday, but he was sure the ball was going over the boundary no matter what. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
Dale Steyn bowled a full-length delivery and Elliott blasted a six over long-on to finish on 84 not out as New Zealand chased down their Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target of 298 from 43 overs with four wickets and a ball to spare.
“I was looking to hit that ball for six or four,” Elliott told reporters after New Zealand finished on 299 for six. “I was just going to line it up and wherever it was, it was going over the boundary.”
The situation of the match had obviously played a massive part in Elliott’s decision, but he had also been told by fellow 36-year-old Daniel Vettori that it was down to him to ‘bring it home’.
Elliott was the more established of the pair but Vettori had also just urged every sinew of his body to sprint to the non-striker’s end after gambling on wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock missing the throw at the stumps.
“Dan said we weren’t going to run to the keeper again so I knew that I had two balls to take us home,” Elliott said.
He had also assessed that four runs would be enough to send New Zealand into the final, having secured the better record in the pool phase, which would have come into effect if the scores were tied.
The ball, however, sailed deep into the bottom tier of the southern stand at Eden Park sparking a massive roar from the 41,000-plus crowd.
“I know it means a lot to the team but you could see the emotion in the stands,” he said. “It means a lot to a lot of people.”
Johannesburg-born Elliott was considered a surprise selection to the World Cup squad after having not played for the national side for more than 14 months and that decision is paying off for coach Mike Hesson and chief selector Bruce Edgar.
Elliott’s composure was none more evident as he and Corey Anderson resurrected New Zealand’s run chase from 149 for four to get to 252 for five with five overs remaining.
“I really did feel the pressure. It was stressful towards the end,” Elliott said.
“It was unfortunate that we left it, we needed 11 off the last over.
“It would have been nice to get it with an over to go but credit to South Africa, they’re a world-class team and they played a very good game.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines