That New Zealand Cricket Think Tank continues to surprise. The Wellington Regional Stadium, blue skies, back to the scene of the England demolition and everyone was predicting a continuation of inserting the opposition. But no; they batted. There were still thousands queuing outside the ground when Martin Guptill was dropped off the third ball of the innings. That was the single most important of the match, and set the scene for the fielding that was to follow.
McCullum’s 12 from 8 (1*4 1*6) caught in the deep had a familiar look to it.
Williamson soon found his stride, even if the first of his boundaries wasn’t far away from a caught and bowled. By the time Andre Russell came on he was hooking in front of square. He was the aggressor in the partnership with Guptill, who struggled against Benn early, so it was a complete surprise to see him chipping one to Gayle in the covers.
Angst and the first drinks break arrived simultaneously.
After that it was the Martin Crowe Academy partnership. Guptill noticeably increased his Strike Rate which meant that Taylor could take his time playing himself in. And Taylor needed that time. He was fine when the ball was on the stumps, but still really struggled to get going when it was outside off. The West Indies should probably have taken more advantage of that.
He will be criticised for that innings, but it what was needed in the circumstances.
Following bringing up his century Guptill took it all to another level, and another, and another etc. His placement between boundary riders during the Batting Power Play was a thing of beauty. His third 50 came off 23 deliveries. His fourth took 18 deliveries. That’s a 41 ball century. He added another 37 off 10 for good measure.
A New Zealand team with Guptill in this form is a totally different beast.
At the same ground against England, the crowd’s chanting of Southee reminded people of the Golden Era of the 1980s with the Hadlee chants. But that was when a bowler was coming in, and that is not uncommon around the world. Today’s chanting equalled that, and it was for a batsman.
Highest score by anyone in a World Cup knockout match, highest score by a New Zealander at a World Cup, highest score by a New Zealander ever, the highest score by anyone at a World Cup, the second highest ODI score ever; the records kept on coming.
Then New Zealand got funky with its batting order by promoting Anderson ahead of Elliott. As it turned out, the scoring rates were the other way around. But it didn’t matter; this was all about Guptill.