New Zealand v South Africa, World Cup 2015, 1st semi-final, Auckland March 24, 2015

'Hope they're all dreaming as much as we are' - McCullum

ESPNcricinfo staff

Brendon McCullum described his 26-ball 59 as 'bits and pieces' compared to the 'significance of the innings Grant [Elliott] played' © Getty Images

Describing New Zealand's run to their first ever World Cup final as an "incredible ride," Brendon McCullum has said his players are having the best time of their lives.

"I've said it time and time again, this is the greatest time of our lives as players," McCullum said, after his side's dramatic semi-final win over South Africa in Auckland. "We're enjoying the experience, it's been an incredible ride all the way through, the crowds that we've had turn up in New Zealand to support this team, the brand of cricket we're trying to play, has been phenomenal.

"Hope they're all dreaming as much as we are, we've got a huge occasion in a few days' time, and jeez it would be nice to win it."

Chasing a revised target of 298 in 43 overs, New Zealand won with only one ball to spare. McCullum revealed he had welcomed the rain interruption that stopped play for close to two hours during South Africa's innings. When the players went off the field, South Africa were 216 for 3 after 38 overs, with Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers already past their century partnership.

"Keep raining," McCullum said, when asked what was running through his mind when the drops began falling. "They were obviously setting it up quite nicely, they were two set batsmen, two very destructive batsmen at the crease as well.

"I still looked at the innings and I thought that the way we kept giving in the field, the way that we bowled, I still thought we were controlling everything we possibly could. Sometimes you come up against people who play significant hands and that's what those guys were doing and we just knew we had to hang in there, I guess. Even with the bat, as long as we could hang in there we gave ourselves a chance towards the end."

McCullum laid the platform for the chase with a 26-ball 59, and Grant Elliott finished the match with an unbeaten 73-ball 84. Elliott was recalled to the New Zealand team for the home series against Sri Lanka in January, having last played an ODI in November 2013.

"What a great innings from Grant Elliott, it was, wow," McCullum said. "Came out of the wilderness not long ago and he's just played a match-winning innings in a semi-final and the partnership him and Corey [Anderson] had, just such a calmness about them as well, just a tremendous achievement from them and all the boys."

McCullum played down his own role in the win.

"It's all bits and pieces, really, when it boils down to the significance of the innings Grant played. We had to generate some sort of run rate early when you're chasing such a big score and that's obviously what we tried to do.

"Credit to South Africa, I thought the way they played throughout this game and throughout this tournament has been outstanding, it's a great advertisement for their country and cricket in their country as well. Full credit to AB [de Villiers], especially, who's led the way, and to all the South African guys for their part in this tournament and for giving us one hell of a run today."

McCullum said he wouldn't mind facing either Australia or India - who will meet in the second semi-final on Thursday - in the final, and backed his side to beat either team.

"No, look, we don't mind, both quality teams that are playing the other semi-final, so we know that if we play the cricket that we can then we'll be in with a good chance in it, but we'll worry about it after tonight.

"But credit to our boys, probably haven't talked enough about them, but we've got a tremendous team spirit among the group, we've got guys contributing across the park, obviously off the park as well, an outstanding management team and a group of guys who are all heading in the same direction and really proud to represent New Zealand."

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  • Stratocaster on March 26, 2015, 3:20 GMT

    @Outside off Lol at that heart checkup. BTW if we rest Taylor, who'll play at his place? Not sure we have anyone averaging 42 in odi's. I have a gut feeling, Ross has had enough, it's time for some magic in the finals.

  • Bill on March 26, 2015, 0:37 GMT

    Mcullum at the start batting SR200. Ross Taylor batting SR 50-70.. Zero sum game? McCullum drags the asking rate down. Taylor sky rockets it back up. Why do they insist on making it a close game? Lol you have so many supporters who are getting heart check ups! It wil be a national emergency soon!

  • Bill on March 26, 2015, 0:08 GMT

    Ppl jump on you as soon as you say something they don't like.. Mccullum has really made this team a very very special team. Ross Taylor has carried our batting for seasons at a time. Purely talking as a arm chair expert, not knowing in the slightest what that kind of pressure and attention feels like, one can understand mistakes and error. Kane Williamson is human. The hype about him was over the top. But so were his performances leading up to the cup. One magic cameo against Stralia again showed his worth. He is having a bad trot. A little bit of bad luck last game but the previous 2 outs he tried hitting the ball in the air, through a packed off-side and was caught both times. At least he is looking to get on with it. Stuff happens. You forgive that. Not so much Taylor. If it were possible(which it isn't) I would like him "rested". he is awful beyond description at the moment.

  • Stratocaster on March 25, 2015, 15:18 GMT

    @Outside Off You used the word. Mccullum's "GETTING HIMSELF OUT"! Not in a single match I have seen a bowler bowl something he can't play but let us have a look at his dismissals so far. Sri Lanka- Hoick to long off, England- bowled to a full toss advancing down track, Australia- bang to mid off, Afghanistan- bowled trying to smack out of park, Bangladesh- hoick to long off, West Indies- hoick to mid off, Saf- hoick to mid on. Come on Brendon, your conversion rate should be better specially when they aren't dishing up jaffas. I don't know whats wrong with Rosco. Martin Crowe needs to have a talk with him. But I feel, he's saving his one for the finals. Southee used to bowl excellent yorkers at the death but now is targeted the most. Mills is still our best bet on a pitch that will be on the slower side but he is not the man to bowl at the death. All hopes now that we face India because Aussies will be more than ready to pay us back for Eden Park.

  • Bill on March 25, 2015, 14:20 GMT

    @stratocaster That's the kind of honest assessment a good team needs. McCullum is building us up and letting the side down GETTING HIMSELF OUT! He is gone bananas by the bloody 5-7th over of a chase! WTH!!! Ross Taylor has got some serious issues at the moment. I mean he is nearly losing games. He is getting others out and batting so ineptly.. I never thought I would see him projecting such little confidence at the crease.. It scares me. I don't focus on bowling for the reason that the game revolves around batting. Boult and Southee have been wonderful. Neither possesses the variety to stop somebody that really sets himself to go after them. Not to say Mills or Milne or Henry does. Hardly anyone can in any team. The Aussies will counter anything we have done so far so I don't want us to get cute. I want NZ to play the best game it's played all year. Big ask. But this is the biggest ask for the team on Sunday.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 12:46 GMT

    What attitude from McCullum ! Both on and off the field. If there was ever a team that truly deserved to win the world cup it's McCullum's NZ side. Aggression, spirit, skill, determination, attitude...they have it all. All they need now is to win 1 game.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 10:47 GMT

    Love the way McCullum leads New Zealand in the right way, and hope they win this. Their approach has definitely been one of the best features of the world cup.

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 9:13 GMT

    @MRKRICKET - I actually have to disagree on the venue, I think it's as good as NZ can hope for away from home. Reason being that fans from around the world strongly dislike the Australian and Indian teams, and those two sets of fans hate each other the most.

    Net result is that if NZ play Australia, we get the support of all the Kiwis there, and no doubt virtually all neutrals (though obviously Australia can still expect the lion's share of support). If we play India, we get all the Kiwis there, and nearly all of the Australian/neutral fans.

    Fielding from both teams was pretty bad in the semi but definitely an aberration, there is a reason they are regarded as the sharpest two fielding teams in the world.

  • Warks on March 25, 2015, 3:18 GMT

    It feels a bit like NZ played their final last night. How could they top that? A very different prospect at the MCG without the home support. If India make the final it will be like Eden Gardens, not Eden Park. If Aus make the final it might feel a bit more like home with so many Kiwis in Melbourne probably getting there but not the majority. I would say neither side last night fielded as well as Australia does but it could have been an off night. Looking forward to a great finish to the WC!

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2015, 2:27 GMT

    NZ may like India in the finals but it would not happen as things are. SA was a good opponent NZ may do it again but unfortunately it is in Melbourne!

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