Guptill sets up New Zealand's 307

50 overs New Zealand 307 for 8 (Guptill 90, Nicholls 61) v Australia
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Martin Guptill top scored with 90 © Getty Images

Martin Guptill made his highest score in seven years of cricket against Australia, but the rest of New Zealand’s batting order struggled to fully capitalise on a quick start provided by Guptill and Brendon McCullum. New Zealand’s 307 for 8 was still a highly competitive total but it was not quite the mammoth score that might have been when they were 181 for 2 in the 25th over, with Guptill seemingly on his way to a hundred.

The run-out of Guptill later in that over proved the turning point. The first half of New Zealand’s overs brought 182 runs, the last half just 125 as the Australians chipped away with regular wickets. Guptill’s 90 off 76 deliveries set the innings up perfectly but Henry Nicholls was the only other batsman to reach a half-century, his 61 coming from 67 balls; Guptill’s 79-run opening stand with McCullum and 100-run effort with Nicholls were the only partnerships of note.

It took the Australians some time to find the right length to bowl and the openers used the short straight boundaries to their advantage, striking eight sixes between them. Glenn Maxwell’s spin leaked 30 runs from three overs and Steven Smith quickly shelved the idea of slow bowling, using his seamers for the rest of the innings.

There were some useful late runs from Mitchell Santner, who finished on an unbeaten 35 from 39 balls, and while 69 runs had come from the final 10 overs it was the previous 10 that hurt: only 32 runs came from overs 31 to 40. John Hastings was key during that period for Australia and was far and away Australia’s most economical bowler, taking 1 for 39 from his 10 overs.

Smith had sent New Zealand in when he won the toss, keen to try the same chasing tactic that proved so successful for Australia in their recent ODIs at home against India. And the first couple of overs must have given him confidence: only one run came from the first 14 balls of the innings. Then McCullum went bang, taking 20 off four balls from Josh Hazlewood, Guptill launched Kane Richardson onto the roof for six more, and New Zealand were away.

McCullum’s final international innings at Eden Park was short but entertaining, including a scoop over the wicketkeeper’s head for four off Hazlewood. But on 44 from 29 balls McCullum fell, bowled while trying to smash James Faulkner through the off side, and when Australia enjoyed the rare feat of having Kane Williamson out for a duck – he drove Hazlewood on the up to short cover from his eighth ball – they hoped things had turned their way.

But Nicholls proved an excellent ally for Guptill and the runs kept flowing. Australia had been a difficult opponent for Guptill in the past – in 33 innings against them across all formats this was just his third half-century – but he enjoyed the absence of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson, and struck eight fours and five sixes. He looked set for a century when he took off for a quick single when Nicholls bunted to the off side; Guptill was sent back and Maxwell’s direct hit had him well short.

From there, New Zealand lost all momentum on a pitch that was proving to be on the slow side. Grant Elliott was caught at mid-off for 21 off Mitchell Marsh, Nicholls top-edged a pull also off Marsh and was caught by Matthew Wade; and Corey Anderson tamely pushed Hastings to short cover for 10 from 20 balls. Luke Ronchi occupied the crease for 26 balls for his 16 before he was bowled by Hazlewood’s yorker.

New Zealand by this stage simply wanted to get through their overs, and Santner did well to steer them to a position from which they could strike a few late boundaries. A brilliant return catch from Faulkner off Adam Milne’s straight drive in the third-last over left Matt Henry to help Santner to the finish line, but whether just over a run a ball proves adequate against this Australian outfit remains to be seen.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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