Melbourne: Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming said he is in a dream state after the Black Caps' win over South Africa to seal a berth in the cricket World Cup final.
Chasing 298 in 43 overs, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum set the tone for the co-hosts by smacking 59 off 26 balls. But the hero of the match was Johannesburg-born Grant Elliott who knocked out the Proteas with a superb six en route to his unbeaten 73-ball 84.
“In the immediate aftermath of New Zealand’s incredible World Cup semifinal against South Africa I found myself wondering, is this a dream? The newspapers and wall-to-wall media coverage of the morning after the night before are enough to convince me it is not and that is a relief" Fleming wrote in a column for International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday.
The 41-year-old, who was captain of the team which lost the 1999 and 2007 semis, said that to see a New Zealand side playing with the freedom and quality that Brendon McCullum's boys are producing, certainly warms his heart.
“I was by no means convinced they would get across the line as the whole match seemed to be on a knife-edge. When New Zealand was bowling, even dot balls were being cheered and I cannot remember a One-Day International (ODI) like it before, where every single delivery seemed like a massive event," Fleming said.
The former left-handed batsman praised current captain McCullum for setting the momentum at the start.
“I take my Black Cap off to McCullum for the crucial role he played with the bat in seizing the initiative for his side,” he said.
Fleming also heaped praise on the Johannesburg-born Elliott.
“Elliott’s innings showed once again what an inspired selection he has been. It is hard to believe now, given what he has shown over the past three months, that he was on the outer as recently as the series in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan in December,” Fleming said.
“Now he is one of the first names on the team sheet and the selectors deserve a great pat on the back for resurrecting his international career.”
Fleming hopes the co-hosts put up a similar show in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 29.
“The quality the Black Caps have produced has been exceptional time and time again in this tournament and I just hope they can do it once more on Sunday. And if they do then that is one dream I would happily never wake up from,” Fleming concluded.