Cricket: Pressure continues to mount for Martin Guptill

By Andrew Alderson at Eden Gardens

The pressure continues to mount on test opener Martin Guptill following another disappointing innings on the second day of the second test in Kolkata.

Guptill suffered the ignominy of trying to leave a ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar outside off stump, but not raising his elbow high enough. It might have hit the funny bone, but there was nothing humorous about the ball cannoning into his stumps. He made 13 from as many balls.

Guptill continues to be given chances at test level, a logical move given his obvious talents in the game's shorter forms as the world's sixth-ranked one-day international and fourth-ranked Twenty20 batsman.

He has received encouragement to play his shots and coach Mike Hesson stressed he never wants a player going into a test thinking it is "last chance saloon".

However, the tag is becoming implicit as this series progresses. Guptill has had three opportunities for returns of 21, 0 and 13.

He gets a maximum of three more.

His lack of runs against quality opposition has been well-documented - he's had 27 innings since his return against England in May 2015 for an average of 27.51.

The 30-year-old had some success in Zimbabwe, averaging 46 from three innings, including 87 in the second test. That is his only half-century in the last 14 innings.

Unless he makes a dramatic recovery, it's hard to imagine he would be given further opportunities at home, after Jeet Raval joined the test squad in Africa.

Guptill aside, a gratifying aspect of New Zealand's start to the second test without captain Kane Williamson has been the contributions of senior players.

The likes of Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Trent Boult and Jeetan Patel ensured the team held India to account for the majority of their innings.

Taylor's maturity stepping in as skipper was commendable, given his axing from the role in December 2012. The minutiae as to how this return unfolded will be explained in due course, but the fact he accepted at short notice showed wounds have healed.

He looked composed and the bowlers largely responded to his command.

Latham showed why his fielding is as important as his batting with contrasting catches to remove Indian captain Virat Kohli and No 6 Rohit Sharma. Kohli flayed a Trent Boult delivery to gully and Sharma popped a chance to short leg from Patel.

Boult was rewarded for building pressure. Nine of his 20.5 overs were maidens, and he conceded 2.20 runs per over.

Patel showed no signs of jetlag after getting whisked across from England, perhaps a benefit of constant road trips playing in the county championship with Warwickshire. His joy at taking two wickets was palpable after an international hiatus of three years and eight months.

- NZ Herald

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