Win wasn't for Grant-ed
New Zealand's Grant Elliott realised a childhood dream when he belted South Africa speedster Dale Steyn into the stand for six at Eden Park on Tuesday to get his adopted homeland into the World Cup final.
South Africa-born Elliott gave a brief celebratory wave as the ball sailed into the crowd before running to comfort a distraught Steyn, who lay sprawled on the ground.
The winning runs came on the penultimate ball of the rain-affected match where New Zealand were set a revised target of 298 under the Duckworth-Lewis method after South Africa had made 281 for five.
For a horrible moment there, Elliott thought he had left his run too late, that he was going to be left not out and not going to Melbourne.
In a departure from the normal sportsman mantra of not getting too caught up in the moment, Elliott readily admitted that he "was really feeling the pressure" of the knife-edge finish.
"I knew I had two balls. Dan [Vettori] said we weren't going to run to the keeper again so I knew it was up to me. I had two balls. I knew four runs would do it because a tie was as good as a win. That was in the back of my mind.
"The chase, we probably left it a little bit late to be honest. It was stressful."
Off the last over they needed 11 to tie, Vettori, in his inimitable style, squeezed a four to backward point, but a couple of byes left Elliott needing the big shot. Steyn was thinking length ball; Elliott was thinking four or six. Elliott won.
"That's the first moment that you actually feel a release of emotion. Cricket's the sort of game where you have to be quite unemotional in your approach. It was a great feeling... to savour that moment and know you're through to the final."
Elliott is aware that the result, and his heroics, have elevated this team to a special place in the public's conscious, but does not want it to end here.
He said he had always wanted to play in a World Cup since 1992 when his mother let him stay home to watch Australia play South Africa in Sydney in what was the Proteas' inaugural appearance at the tournament.
"I got suspended from cricket and from school for a while because I did that, but it left a massive impression on me," said Elliott, who turned 36 last weekend.
"I thought that tournament, the coloured clothing and everything was what I wanted to do and it's funny how life works. It's amazing to be at Eden Park today to hit the winning run."
Although Elliott has immersed himself in New Zealand culture since leaving South Africa in 2001, he said he still felt sorry for the Proteas, adding that was why he tried to console Steyn and helped him to his feet.
"You have to feel compassion. Humble in victory, humble in defeat. I felt quite sorry for him. I felt quite sorry for a lot of the South African guys for losing the game," said Elliott, who made his New Zealand debut seven years ago.
There is one drawback for Elliott in all this. He will now have to skip his sister's big day.
"She's got a wedding on Friday. Unfortunately I will miss her wedding. I'm sorry. She's pretty happy for me but I'm going to have to get her a special gift I think."
It is only fair, surely, that his teammates chip in as well.