Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Catching up on lost time and breath, is Martin Guptill. Martin Guptill scored 93 off 56 balls, hitting 6 fours and 7 sixes
Martin Guptill scored 93 off 56 balls, hitting 6 fours and 7 sixes
Martin Guptill trying to catch his breath isn't exactly how you'd want to remember this innings. It is his highest T20I score in Asia after all, coming soon after he'd become only the second player with 3000 international runs in the format. And to top it all, the runs came in the nick of time for New Zealand who are trying to win their remaining Super 12 games and join Pakistan in the semifinals.
But when Guptill holed out to long-on and puffed his way back to the pavilion, it was one of the lasting images of his innings. That of him shadow-practising his shot and suggesting how his braced top hand took a lot of distance away from it. That of him letting out a big sigh that could either be about putting his bad form in Asia behind or about not having to run twos alongside Glenn Phillips anymore. That of his long walk back to the pavilion in 32 degrees heat as Nasser Hussain pounded the airwaves with “ran out of puff” and “absolutely exhausted.”
The eyes, weary from spotting the white ball in that glare, held onto whatever was in front: a tired-looking Guptill gasping for breath. No wonder he was in good humour in the air-conditioned press briefing room.
“Martin, can you expand a little bit in terms of the heat and the humidity today?”
“Haven't been long enough previously (chuckles) … in these conditions,” Guptill responded somewhat in those words, his hahas eating away a few syllables in between.
That was anything but like the Guptill from two hours ago. Then deserted in the middle of the Dubai Cricket Stadium, he was redder, clammy and intent upon making up for his low scores in the tournament so far. His strike rate of 111 in his 24 T20I innings hitherto in Asia imperilled this innings against Scotland too.
The first couple of deliveries from Bradley Wheal to Guptill were perfect: fast enough, banged on a hard length, and bouncing past his bat searching for some runs. The third ball wasn't, and off it went flying over covers. The feet were moving again.
But it perhaps was a 102-meter slog sweep that screamed the loudest about Guptill's return. It was the longest side of the ground, it was into the top tier and it was a faultless leg break just outside off stump from Chris Greaves. But it didn't matter for Guptill.
He'd hit six more of these. Definitely not as big but they counted for no less.
“On these wickets, if there's some loose line bowling, you have to try and pounce on it and I was lucky enough to get a couple of wide ones early on and put them away,” was how he humbly looked back on his innings.
Guptill didn't just get New Zealand's hectic few days off to a good start but it also ensured that they did so beating the odds. Coming in with three losses in their last five bat-first games, Kane Williamson's side had its own demons to beat besides the overwhelming numbers stacked in favour of chasing sides in this T20 WC.
Batting deep into the 19th over against Scotland, Guptill scored 54 out of his 93 runs after the 10th over mark and put New Zealand on course for a challenging total of 172/5.
Having a set batsman at the crease undoubtedly helped manoeuvre past the sluggish middle overs against spin, largely the rate-determining step on these slow and low pitches of the UAE. And it's been a tactic that's served the teams well while batting first, be it Jos Buttler against Sri Lanka or Mohammad Rizwan against Namibia.
“When you get down to the end of the innings, you try and get as many runs as you can and swing hard and get back to the twos as well… it takes it out of you,” Guptill said.
But has he ever felt quite as oppressed by conditions? “I've certainly played in hotter (conditions) but in T20 cricket, when you're running nearly every ball and trying to hit boundaries, it just takes it out of you a lot quicker than it does, say, if you're back home.
“So I had to come out halfway through their innings with a bit of cramp. It wasn't ideal but we got there in the end.”
All it cost Guptill were a few heavy breaths. He'll hope for some more in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.