Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Brilliant Guptill leads NZ to victory

England 227-9
New Zealand 231-5

Martin Guptill produced the first one-day international century by a New Zealander at Lord's to give the visitors a five-wicket win with 19 balls to spare in the first match of three against England.

The Marylebone Cricket Club remains a venue New Zealand has never lost in three completed 50-over matches.

It is Guptill's third one-day century in 70 matches - he made his first on debut against the West Indies in January 2009 and his second against Zimbabwe in Harare in October 2011. He escaped an lbw review from the bowling of Tim Bresnan on 99 in the 47th over before four byes drew the scores level on 227. The opener defended a delivery before pulling the next to the boundary and finishing 103 not out, having batted through the innings.

Guptill, along with Ross Taylor in a second-wicket partnership of 120, demonstrated the batting leadership the side craved to get parity with England in the two tests.

After New Zealand had shrunk to two for one in James Anderson's opening over through catches behind the wicket, the pair were faced with a survival job beyond anything anyone had produced recently in white clothes.

Guptill was stronger than usual square of the wicket rather than his customary straight drives; Taylor was brutal through cover on his way to 54.

Grant Elliott with 27 and James Franklin with 16 not out provided useful cameos; Franklin was particularly magnanimous blocking deliveries in the 46th over so Guptill could reach the milestone.

England's bowlers, with a cap of 10 overs and missing Stuart Broad and Steve Finn with minor injuries were a restricted force.

In a sign of how dire the batting has been, the successful chase was higher than anything New Zealand had produced in the tests with a best of 220 at Leeds.

Striding to the crease in their new red one-day international strip, England's batsmen must have looked like Santas bearing gifts for the New Zealand bowlers at times during the opening innings.

The gifts were their wickets as the visitors rallied with the ramping up of the squad's experience. It looked like the pressure built up by the test series loss had been lifted. New Zealand held their composure and England could sustain little momentum after being sent in by captain Brendon McCullum under overcast skies.

After the pomp of the test series, limited overs matches can tend to lack intensity but New Zealand and England produced a decent opening innings duel. England's top four got starts with Jonathan Trott top-scoring with 37. Joe Root produced the best strike rate of 75 but you could almost feel the harrumph from the members pavilion when he was bowled by Nathan McCullum, attempting a reverse sweep after a 67-run third-wicket partnership.

Trott holed out to Taylor on the mid-wicket boundary less than 11 balls later and Eoin Morgan went five balls afterwards. The flurry of wickets stalled the innings on what appeared a useful batting pitch. Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee and Nathan McCullum prevented England from scoring a boundary from overs 28 through to 34.
England's run-rate was kept under 4.50 from the 2nd to the 49th overs.

Southee was the best of the bowlers with three for 37, continuing the form of his 10-wicket haul in the test match at the same ground. His opening spell of five overs, two for 12, including two wicket maidens, was the best of the innings. He pushed the ball up to the batsmen, as has become customary, and enticed the drive.

Luke Ronchi began his international debut for New Zealand with a wicketkeeping display which suggests he has a promising future, despite his 32 years.

With Brendon McCullum assuming the leadership and becoming increasingly fragile behind the stumps, Ronchi seems a logical choice. His two catches to help dismiss openers Ian Bell and Alastair Cook looked like he was diving onto the type of fluffy pillows you might find down the road at the Savoy. Ronchi did it with ease and might have thrown in an extra half roll for effect - that's what debuting at Lord's will do. In addition, the two new balls must have felt like they were entering a cocoon when enveloped by his gloves. He also pouched a dolly off Morgan.

Ronchi's agility was notable. He wasn't Spiderman but you wouldn't want to be a batsman sneaking an inch out of the crease on his watch. He couldn't back it up with the bat, dismissed for a third-ball duck.

Daniel Vettori was ruled out pre-match when he failed a fitness test at the ground. He aggravated his existing Achilles tendon injury and will be reassessed ahead of tomorrow's match at Southampton. The 34-year-old has not played for New Zealand since September at the World Twenty20.

- NZ Herald

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