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Cricket: Glorious 180* from Martin Guptill sets up ODI decider

Martin Guptill produced New Zealand's individual highest chasing innings of 180 not out off 138 balls to secure a seven-wicket victory over South Africa with 30 balls to spare at Hamilton.

His heroics helped level the five-match one-day international series 2-2 with a decider set for Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.

Alongside Ross Taylor (66 off 97 balls) the pair put on 180 for the third wicket, a record for any partnership against the Proteas in ODIs and second on the overall list.

They helped chase down 280.

In his 12th ODI century, Guptill delivered some of the cleanest hitting at a New Zealand cricket ground, which says something given his past pedigree. The innings included 11 sixes and was made all the more special because it was his first appearance since recovering from a hamstring strain suffered during the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

Business will be booming for chiropractors and physiotherapists across the Waikato tomorrow, due to cricks in patrons' necks.

The ball was drawn like a magnet to the middle of Guptill's bat as he saturated his wagon wheel.

Taylor was due recognition, too. He stuck with his teammate through a period which included taking a review of a successful Dwaine Pretorius lbw shout when he was on 62.

Captain Kane Williamson also deserved credit for not wasting the review when he was adjudged lbw to Imran Tahir for 21. The temptation to save his wicket must have been strong. He and Guptill reached the right consensus decision because the ball was deemed to be hitting the stumps.

Guptill needed to deliver something spectacular after the masterclass AB de Villiers unleashed for 2264 fans.

The visitors decided to bat on what appeared a slowish wicket.

New Zealand had won seven home one-day international series since October 2014. South Africa inflicted the last loss, 2-0, in the World Cup build-up. That record remains alive.

The Proteas reached 279 for eight, blasting 100 for two from the final eight overs.

As a last resort to get de Villiers' wicket, his hit single Maak Jou Drome Waar (translated as Make Your Dreams Come True from Afrikaans) was blasted across the public address system. The serenading distraction came to nought. He was at his barnacle best on the way to 72 not out from 57 balls.

The performance loomed as a test of the visitors' selection strategy, after opting not to pick left-arm chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi as a second specialist spinner. The absence of Andile Phehlukwayo with a tight groin also meant they lacked a cutter specialist.

Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner signaled New Zealand's intentions to take the pace off the ball by opening the bowling. It was the first time in 3843 ODIs that two spinners had opened in the first innings for any team.

It was the third time New Zealand had opened with two slower bowlers in an ODI, and the first at home.

Santner finished with one for 40 while Patel took two for 57. The 36-year-old off spinner coaxed Quinton de Kock to edge behind for a golden duck, his first in 133 innings across all international formats. The dismissal ended the opener's chances of becoming the first South African to make six consecutive ODI scores of 50 or more.

Patel backed up in his second spell by removing Hashim Amla (40 from 38 balls) when the opener got cute with a back foot paddle, and clipped the ball into leg stump.

However, the removal of one member of South Africa's top six tends to generate form elsewhere. No.3 Faf du Plessis starred for the first time in the series, making 67 from 97 balls to supplement de Villiers' heroics. The Proteas struggled to assert momentum in the middle overs before de Villiers got into his work alongside cameos from Chris Morris (28 from 27 balls) and Wayne Parnell (29 from 12).

But no-one could trump the majesty of Guptill.

- NZ Herald

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