Hunched over in sheer exhaustion, head down, leaning on his bat to steady his wobbly legs, Martin Guptill picked himself up and wearily prepared for the next ball.
In charged Safyaan Sharif, and thwack - a low full toss was punished, several rows deep in the midwicket stands.
If he had the energy, Guptill may have offered a wry smile. Instead, back down on his haunches he went, breathing heavily in the 33 degree Dubai heat, summoning the reserves to get back up and face the music once more.
When finally dismissed in the penultimate over, Guptill had carved one of his finest innings – a brilliant 93 off 56 balls which guided the Black Caps to a 16-run win over Scotland at the Twenty20 World Cup.
In between gulps of air and calls for hydration, Guptill had smashed six fours and seven sixes, and combined to run 43 singles and 13 twos with his various partners, the most reliable being Glenn Phillips, who was happy to call his fatigued yet still whippy partner through for quickly-taken runs as part of a 105-run partnership off 73 balls which saw the Black Caps through to 172-5, a total that proved too lofty for Scotland to match.
It was a crucial stand after the Black Caps lost their way in the first half of their innings. Guptill and opener Daryl Mitchell had added 35 in the first four overs before Mitchell was trapped lbw, but then skipper Kane Williamson was caught down the legside for a four-ball duck, and Devon Conway gloved a catch behind when attempting a reverse sweep, contributing just one off three balls.
From sitting at 52-2 after six overs, the Black Caps limped to 70-3 after 10, with spinner Mark Watt (1-13) and seamer Sharif (2-28) exceptional.
However, the gulf between a world-class team and an associate nation became clear in the margins. Loose deliveries from spinner Chris Greaves released some of the pressure Watt had expertly built, while Alasdair Evans leaked 25 runs from his first two overs, but was brought back for another two, conceding 23 more. 15 wides were sloppily given away, and, perhaps most importantly, Michael Leask dropped Phillips on the midwicket boundary, then butchered a chance to snare Guptill for 61 on the square leg boundary, losing the ball in the sun as it plopped inches over the rope for six.
Guptill hardly needed another invitation. He had earlier smacked Greaves 102 metres into the top deck, and brought up 3000 T20 international runs with a flick for six over backward square leg – just the second man to reach the milestone.
At the other end, Phillips was struggling, missing some early wafts as he mustered just three off 10 balls, but he picked up in the second half of the innings, and then wisely opted to rotate the strike to let Guptill swing away.
Ultimately, Phillips' 33 off 37 balls wasn't a great innings, but was nevertheless important in the context of the match, given an early departure may have exposed a long tail. Instead, he and Guptill's century stand meant Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner weren't required until the 19th over, and with 102 runs coming off the last 10 overs, few could argue with the pacing of the innings.
As Guptill's time spent on his knees grew progressively longer, his sixes became twice as impactful, with the search for the ball in the sparsely populated stands giving him extra time to catch his breath, while Phillips' request of a new bat at the end of the 17th over was probably more of a friendly time-wasting gesture than an issue with his blade.
It looked as if the only thing stopping Guptill from reaching the Black Caps' second T20 World Cup century was fatigue, and that weariness likely played a factor when he toe-ended a drive to hole out to long-on.
That ended a magnificent yet exhausting innings – but one well worth the anguish as Scotland failed to hunt down the target he largely set.
They briefly threatened when Matthew Cross – who had previously played out a maiden over to Adam Milne – then smacked the same bowler for five consecutive fours. That brought them to 48-1 at the end of the six-over powerplay, and then George Munsey threatened, thumping Ish Sodhi for back-to-back sixes.
However, Sodhi struck luck later in the over, with a full toss being slapped down the ground by Munsey, but only as far as Tim Southee, who took a stunning sliding catch on his knees at long-on.
With Scotland needing 97 from 10 overs, Southee then bowled four dot balls to Cross before skittling his middle stump with the fifth delivery, and Santner's first three overs conceded just 10 runs as the Black Caps slammed on the brakes.
From there, Scotland never looked likely, with Leask's late 42 not out off 20 balls merely denting the Black Caps' margin of victory - a win which maintains their simple equation to make the semifinals.
Two wins down, two wins to go.