World Cup

An epic contest befitting two gifted sides

It was a great day of cricket for New Zealand as it made World Cup history with its maiden entry to the final of the tournament by eliminating South Africa.

What an exhilarating match it was; emotionally charged, full of intrigue and excitement. It was an epic, the kind that makes cricket such a sporting spectacle. It was a reality show of human passion coming to the fore.

It left the South Africans shattered and in tears. But I must say New Zealand won because it held its nerve, made fewer mistakes and, importantly, did not relent even when faced with the harsh prospect of fumbling at the final hurdle.

The Kiwis had toiled for this moment of reckoning and deliverance. New Zealand was the superior side, giving its best in crunch situations. It was hugely motivated and credit to Brendon McCullum as he tore into Dale Steyn and Co. to lay the foundation for a dramatic chase.

Rain played spoilsport for South Africa in World Cup matches in the past, and returned to haunt it in this match too. On resumption, all it got was five more overs in which it garnered 65 runs.

But South Africa fought. It fielded with gusto even as McCullum and the rest were on the rampage. But winning a game of this magnitude boils down to holding your nerve. There were two turning points — when Rilee Rossouw and AB de Villiers missed running out Corey Anderson and then the dropped catch of Grant Elliott.

McCullum’s inspiring captaincy and exploits with the bat stood out. But what stole everyone one’s heart was the grace he showed in victory by lauding the opposition. Hard luck AB. You gave it your all to create this classic. It was indeed a game befitting a semifinal between two gifted sides.


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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 7:09:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/an-epic-contest-befitting-two-gifted-sides/article7029313.ece

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