Martin Guptill : The phenomenal rise of the kiwi star

Martin Guptill : The phenomenal rise of the kiwi star

New Zealand as a cricket nation have improved a lot in the last few sessions and the credit goes to several individuals. Brendon McCullum is the leading force behind the overall improvement while the likes of Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill too deserves special mention for keeping their team in the hunt against all rivals. Guptill, the opening batsman, has been in tremendous touch in the fifty over game.


The right hand batsman is scoring runs for fun and the opposite numbers are finding life difficult in front of him. He has the tendency of setting up of his innings and then goes on dictating terms. The most prolific international one-day batsman of 2015 hasn’t required a New Year’s resolution. Martin Guptill’s run of form in the limited-overs arena continued recently in Mount Maunganui as he made 102 in the fifth and final ODI against Sri Lanka. His composed knock - albeit with a couple of miscues - came from 109 balls and featured nine fours and three sixes. It saw him become the third New Zealander to break into double figures for ODI centuries - Guptill now has 10, behind only Nathan Astle (16) and Ross Taylor (15).


It was his innings which kept New Zealand going in the last match of the series. Prior to this match, he set the ground blazing with unbelievable hitting in the second ODI. He went on to create history for New Zealand in the ODIs as the Black Caps flogged Sri Lanka in recordbreaking style in Christchurch. He ensured that his team didn’t feel the absence of Brendon McCullum as the opener went perilously close to assembling the fastest-ever half century in the 50-over format. The 29-year-old star player, who overtook Kane Williamson as the leading run scorer in ODIs in 2015 with a belligerent 79 in the series opener on Boxing Day, almost replaced South Africa’s AB de Villiers as owner of the quickest 50 before the Black Caps surged to a 10-wicket victory.


However, he had to be satisfied with a 17-ball half-century. Guptill bettered the record for New Zealand as he relegated McCullum’s 18-ball effort against English during last year’s World Cup in Wellington. AB de Villiers holds the current benchmark scoring 50 off 16 balls, when the Proteas captain flayed the West Indies attack in Johannesburg in 2015. Guptill was on track after rocketing to 46 from 13 balls but a rare accuracy from Nuwan Kulasekara and Sachithra Senanayake thwarted his bid for a record he did not know was in reach until umpire Richard Illingworth had a word. “I was just swinging. I was just trying to hit as many runs as I could as quick as I could,” he said. “The first time I thought about that was when the umpire said ‘You’ve got two balls to get it’.


Guptill took a single off Senanayake to eclipse McCullum’s effort - an anticlimax in the context of a searing unbeaten 93 from 30 balls studded with nine boundaries and eight sixes. The latest series was not the only example of his exploits in the ODIs. He showed his class in the World Cup as well. He posted the highest score in World Cup history as New Zealand sauntered past West Indies and into the semi-finals. The Black Caps opener hit 237 to strip the record off West Indies’ Chris Gayle who posted 215 against Zimbabwe in the group stages of the tournament. Guptill’s knock helped New Zealand along to a staggering 393-6. Guptill, dropped on four by Marlon Samuels, faced 163 balls as he hit 24 fours and 11 sixes, one of them a 110- metre rocket that landed on the roof of Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.


His knock was also the second highest individual score in the history of one day internationals behind India’s Rohit Sharma’s 264 which he scored against Sri Lanka at Kolkata last year. “It’s a pretty cool feeling to be fair, but the job’s only half done,” Guptill said. Guptill, who scored a century in New Zealand’s previous match against Bangladesh, said he had to ignore the pressure of playing a knockout match in front of his home fans. “Obviously there is pressure when you walk in to bat but you’ve just got to try to put it out of your mind and watch the ball as well as you can, That’s what I tried to do today, I’m just lucky it paid off.” It was the sixth instance where a batsman reached 200-run mark in a fifty over game. Guptill’s innings also saw him break his own record for the highest ODI score by a New Zealander, which had stood at 189 not out and was set against England at Southampton in 2013. Guptill said he was thrilled to bat through the entire innings, saying he felt comfortable on the drop-in wicket once he got his eye in. “It’s quite tough to start on, but once you get yourself in and get used to it the runs can come easily,” he said.


Guptill finished the last year as the highest run-scorer in the ODIs with 1489 runs off 32 matches under his belt. He smashed 4 centuries and 8 half centuries at an average of 55.14. These mind-blowing numbers are a sign that he has come of age in the last few seasons and is displaying his maturity at the crease. He has learnt the art of being consistent on regular basis and this is what has transformed New Zealand into a dangerous unit. This technically correct batsman has become the centre of New Zealand’s batting line-up and with Brendon McCullum set for a retire, he will have to continue with his good show in the future assignments. He has scored 4571 runs in 124 ODIs so far and if he continues in the same fashion, there is no way he can’t finish as one of the legends of New Zealand cricket. He made his One Day International debut for New Zealand on 10 January 2009 against the West Indies in Auckland, becoming the first New Zealander to score a century on his one-day debut.


He reached the landmark with a huge six off the bowling of Chris Gayle. His score of 122 not out is the highest debut score in New Zealand ODI history, and second highest debut score ever in ODIs. In the 2013 tour of England, Guptill led from his opening position scoring back-to-back undefeated hundreds. In the first ODI at Lord’s Cricket Ground, he guided a successful chase scoring 103* with a strike-rate of 83.73, following up with a 189* (strike-rate of 121.93) at the Rosebowl, Southampton in the second game. Martin Guptill has not looked back since then and has been among the top scorer for his team.

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