Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf
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It had been building all tournament. At some point it crossed from hope to expectation.
Expectation that for the first time in the World Cup's history, New Zealand would challenge for the title. They had brushed aside Sri Lanka in the tournament opener, practically devoured England in Wellington, squeaked past Australia in an electric low-scorer, and now, in the highest-capacity stadium in the land, they were five runs away from the World Cup final, with two balls to play.
South Africa have maintained that they didn't choke - that they just plain old lost in a tight ODI that happened to be the biggest they had played in almost 16 years. But it was a strange choice of delivery from Dale Steyn. He later recounted his chat with his captain, AB de Villiers, before that ball. "I can't promise you that I am going to get it in the blockhole - the ball is wet [there had been rain earlier in the evening]," Steyn had said. "What I can promise you is a hard back of a length." Except, Eden Park's straight boundaries are miniscule. You can practically reach down from the stands at either end and ruffle the bowler's hair. Length might have been what Steyn was most confident of executing, but it was also most likely to disappear.
ALSO READ: Eden Park's moment of catharsis
You knew from the thwock off Grant Elliott's bat that it was going to be six. The ball had travelled less than half its trajectory into the stand beyond long-on when ecstasy erupted at Eden Park - 45,000 revelling at once in unreserved, full-throated jubilation. Twenty-three years before that night, it had been at this very same venue that New Zealand were denied a place in the final by Inzamam-ul-Haq and Pakistan.
With one stroke, Elliott had risen up to meet expectations that had intensified over weeks, and provided a nation catharsis for two decades of World Cup hurt.