Cricket: 'Special' century is justice for Guptill

By Andrew Alderson, in London

It seemed appropriate Martin Guptill should bring up his third one-day international century, and the first by a New Zealander at Lord's, with a pull shot.

He had specifically worked on the stroke with batting coach Bob Carter in an 'extra for experts' tutorial on the Marylebone Cricket Club nursery ground in the build-up to the first test which Guptill didn't play.

His century came at the perfect time for a New Zealand team facing a barrage of criticism for an inability to bat sustained periods in test cricket.

Despite the 10-over ODI cap and better batting wickets, they chased a 228-run target at Lord's which trumped anything posted in four test innings.

Guptill combined with Ross Taylor (54) for a pseudo opening stand of 120 after Luke Ronchi and Kane Williamson departed in the first over with the score at one.

With restrained defence from James Franklin in the previous over, Guptill hit the winning runs with 19 balls to spare. It came with drama. He survived an lbw review off Tim Bresnan on 99 and next ball four byes made the scores level, meaning Guptill had to produce the winning stroke.

"To get a hundred anywhere is special and even better at Lord's," he said. "From where we were at one for two in the first over, Ross Taylor helped me bat well through the third wicket partnership to set the game up."

It's Guptill's third ODI century (he is one of two New Zealanders, alongside Rob Nicol, to make a hundred on debut). He also made one with six balls to spare to win a T20 match in East London against South Africa during December.

"I was just happy to be there in the end. That delivery for four byes wasn't far away from hitting the helmet for five penalty runs [which would have finished the match], so I was quite lucky."

When asked about whether he was favouring his right leg, Guptill said it was just general stiffness and soreness. "It should be right. It's only because I've been on my feet all day."

The result is justice for Guptill who strained a hamstring helping New Zealand to a three-wicket ODI win against England in March. He had also damaged a thumb at training earlier in the tour which required surgery. He has since struggled for form (this is the first innings in six across all formats where he has passed 50). He made the second test team at Leeds after B-J Watling was injured.

Captain Brendon McCullum was delighted with Guptill's return to form, brother Nathan's bowling and Luke Ronchi's keeping.

"Nathan got the tap on shoulder with Dan's [Vettori] injury and did a brilliant job to bowl 10 straight overs in the middle stages against good players of spin. To pick up wickets [Joe Root and Jonathan Trott] was outstanding. He's a confidence player so could take a lot from the performance.

"Luke's keeping was outstanding. It's the first time I've really seen him keep over a prolonged period. He'll keep the gloves for the next two games; I don't expect it will change [in the Champions Trophy]."

McCullum was less enamoured with the Vettori injury crisis.

"Dan was going to play but re-aggravated his Achilles injury. We're going to assess it. It's still too early to make a call on the Champions Trophy as yet. You're always worried when 270-odd games of experience pulls up injured."

England captain Alastair Cook was philosophical on the loss.

"Losing three wickets quickly [from 117 for three to 126 for five] took the sting out of our innings. We ended up with a nothing score. That's the art of one-day cricket, risk and reward. I don't think our shot options were wrong, it was just poor execution. Everyone knows a top score of 37 [from Trott] doesn't win you games of one-day cricket."

- Herald on Sunday

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