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."