“New Zealand will desperately want Guptill to continue his same form in the Tri-Series too and these numbers will certainly help him go with a positive mind”.

New Zealand ended 2017 on a high note where they demolished the West Indian side across the formats. Carrying forward the same momentum, they have kickstarted this new year with a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan in the ODI series. There were hardly any big scores of 300-plus and what made a difference between both the sides was the partnerships the hosts built every time it was needed in a game. The pitches were relatively slower than the usual ones in New Zealand but the home side adapted to the conditions at any moment and hence they were the successful team of the two.

There was one batsman who stood out of the lot and the BlackCaps were more than happy that it was none other than their senior player and opener Martin Guptill. He started with a 48 in the first ODI, followed with an unbeaten 86 in the second and he posted the scores of 45 and 31 in the third and fourth ODIs. The final match was nothing but a dead rubber, which Pakistan played for pride and the hosts played to boost their morale more with an aim to clean sweep the series.

New Zealand’s other opener, Colin Munro, has been in a great touch and he has managed to take his side off a great start in almost every match. Even in the final ODI, his explosives ensured New Zealand reached their first fifty under six overs. Two quick dismissals meant Guptill lost Munro and skipper Kane Williamson by the time the scoreboard reached only 101 runs. A display of disciplined bowling from Pakistan meant they restricted the free flow of runs before Guptill and his good friend and another senior member of the team, Ross Taylor, took the matter on their hands. Instead of dropping the anchor because of the fall of quick wickets, Guptill chose to go all blaze and that worked for the BlackCaps.

Although he earned a life when on 72, in the 34th over, Guptill from there marched on with a near-flawless-innings to his 13th ODI ton. After being denied a single by Taylor, Guptill was forced to run back only to slip a few meters away from his crease. However, Faheen Ashraf who collected the ball fine but failed to knock the stumps off. Guptill after that made Ashraf and Pakistan regret the mistake almost every over. The very next over, Guptill set himself loose as he hammered a few boundaries and moved to 80. Pakistan did manage to trap him but his score of exactly 100 had helped New Zealand post a decent total of 271 in 50 overs. The fact that Pakistan lost the match by mere 15 runs made Guptill’s firing towards the end even more significant.

With 310 runs in 5 ODIs at an average of 77.50, Guptill was named the Player of the Series along with the Man of the Match award in the fifth ODI at Basin Reserve on Friday. New Zealand have a busy one-day schedule in the coming months this year and Guptill finding his touch back will only strengthen the side, even physiologically. Out of 154 ODIs so far in his career, he has opened for New Zealand in 130 matches since his debut and there have hardly been players who have outperformed him to snatch that position from him. While the New Zealanders have struggled to fill Brendon McCullum’s shoes after his retirement, they have also faced issues because of Guptill’s inconsistency.

McCullum finished his career with 6,083 runs in 260 ODIs and Guptill, who has played only 154 ODIs is only 221 runs away from surpassing his former opening partner. That will also make his New Zealand’s fourth highest run-scorer in the one-day game. There has been an annoying pattern since his debut in 2009; after a good knock, he goes quiet for a very long time, sometimes even for as long as 10 innings. For example, Guptill scored a hundred today and he did that after going 11 innings without a ton. It sure was frustrating for both New Zealand and the player himself.

All those innings included the home series against South Africa, ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England and three-ODI series in India and New Zealand lost all of those. In England, Guptill failed to even reach the 50-run mark which certainly hurt the BlackCaps, as bad as that they had lost their must-win match against a lower-ranked Bangladesh. As soon as Guptill returned to form, the result turned into New Zealand’s favour and that’s what an in-form opener does to a team. It goes without saying that batting at any position is equally important and requires skill but the openers have a slightly more crucial role in the result of the match.

If the opening batsmen take the team off to a decent start, the pressure tends to reduce on the following batsmen.They can play their natural game with a lot more free mind. The trick for the openers is to play the new white ball with caution and then change gears as the game progresses. And, that’s what Guptill had done at Basin Reserve in the final match. New Zealand have a huge series coming up, Tri-series that also involves England and Australia and it will be played in both New Zealand and Australia. While Guptill averages 50-plus at home, he has a decent record in their neighbouring country too of 40-plus in Australia. The record that has stood out on his CV is his performance against England, where has averages 66.20 in 13 ODIs.


New Zealand will desperately want Guptill to continue his same form in the Tri-Series too and these numbers will certainly help him go with a positive mind.

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