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Cricket: Never take Guptill for granted

Martin Guptill acknowledges the crowd after scoring his 12th ODI century.
Martin Guptill acknowledges the crowd after scoring his 12th ODI century.

The risk of watching Martin Guptill's clinical hitting displays is that they get taken for granted.

Yet any apathy should be dispatched in the same fashion he treated the South African bowlers last night in Hamilton on his way to 180 not out off 138 balls on a tricky batting pitch.

Guptill's knock, the highest individual chasing innings by a New Zealander in an ODI, secured a seven-wicket victory over South Africa in the fourth one-day international. He helped haul in 280 with 30 balls to spare.

The Black Caps levelled the five-match one-day international series 2-2 with a decider set for Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday. They have won two of their nine previous bilateral series with South Africa, including one out of four at home.

Historically, it will take a special opener to replace Guptill for power and elegance in New Zealand white-ball cricket. Fortunately he's only 30, so fans should have years to savour his abilities at the top of the order.

"It was pretty 'up there', possibly my No.1," Guptill said, when asked how the innings ranked among his ODI efforts. "I'm reasonably happy with how today went, without a lot of preparation.

"That's a decent stick [bat] I've got, I'll put that one on ice until next time."

Guptill's innings included 11 sixes and was made more special because it was his first appearance since recovering from a hamstring strain suffered during the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

"I was always hoping this day would never come, where he's figured out his game and is playing it nice and late," South African captain AB de Villiers said of Guptill. "I could sit here for quite some time and talk about that knock.

"It was hard to set fields to some good hitting. We maybe gave him a few boundaries balls and were a bit soft here and there, but it was a fantastic knock."

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was of a similar view.

"I said to Martin when he came off that was probably his best - and he's done it a few times to be fair - so there are several comparisons.

"In a chasing effort, on what wasn't an easy surface, and to hit the ball the way he did was a world-class effort.

"He played with the freedom we know he can, and did something special against the best team in the world. It's great to have him back."

A crucial moment came when Williamson and Guptill discussed whether the skipper should use the DRS after being adjudged lbw to Imran Tahir.

If Williamson had done so, the review would have been sacrificed.

Instead, the upshot was Guptill used it when he had an lbw decision overturned on 62 against Dwaine Pretorius.

"It was a big moment in the game," Williamson said of his magnanimous call, tongue-in-cheek.

"Kane wanted to tee it up, but I thought it looked quite good," Guptill quipped.

"In the end I said [to Guptill] his wrong 'un turns more than his leggie," added Williamson. "So I put my head down and walked off."

Guptill said he was always going to "tee up" his original dismissal to Pretorius but consulted Taylor all the same.

"I was a long way down the wicket, and it hit me above the knee roll, so it was a no brainer."

Guptill said the initial gauge was that his hamstring had come through the match fine after spending the best part of 100 overs on the ground.

GUPTILL'S 180 NOT OUT OFF 138 BALLS V SOUTH AFRICA IN HAMILTON

- his 12th ODI century
- the highest individual chasing innings by a New Zealander in an ODI, eclipsing Scott Styris' 141 in a losing effort against Sri Lanka in Bloemfontein at the 2003 World Cup.
- the fourth highest chasing score in ODI history behind Shane Watson 185, MS Dhoni 183 not out and Virat Kohli 183.
- gives him the three highest ODI scores by a New Zealander (joining 237 not out v West Indies at Wellington, 2015 World Cup; and 189 not out v England at Southampton, 2013).
- his 180 runs with Ross Taylor (66 off 97 balls) for the third wicket was a record for any partnership against South Africa in ODIs and second on New Zealand's overall third-wicket list.

- NZ Herald

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