A record-setting 122 not out by New Zealand debutant Martin Guptill brightened an otherwise dismal day in Auckland yesterday as the fourth one-day international against the West Indies was washed out by rains.
Guptill, starting in his specialist opening position after Jesse Ryder was dropped for disciplinary reasons, batted right through the innings as New Zealand made 275 for four.
Along the way he set the highest one-day international score by a New Zealander on debut, the second-highest maiden innings in the history of ODI cricket — behind West Indian Desmond Haynes 148 against Australia in 1978 — and the highest unbeaten debut.
But his heroics were not enough to snap the series deadlock as the match was abandoned with the West Indies 64 without loss chasing a revised target of 235 in 40 overs when rain sent the players off for a second and final time.
The first match in the series was also abandoned because of rain and the West Indies won a rain-shortened second match. The third match, won by New Zealand in Wellington on Wednesday, is the only game to go the full distance.
Weather permitting, the series will now be decided in the fifth and final match at Napier on Tuesday.
Guptill was originally selected for the New Zealand team when Jamie How, who had been struggling for form at No. 3, was dropped from the side after the third match.
But the 22-year-old was then promoted to opener on the eve of the match when Ryder, who has a continuing battle with alcohol, was dropped from the side after a late-night drinking session.
Determined to make the most of the opportunity, Guptill showed no sign of first-match nerves from the time West Indies captain Chris Gayle won the toss and made New Zealand bat in conditions ripe for his battery of quick bowlers.
He was dropped three times, batted at nearly a run a ball, faced 135 deliveries and struck eight boundaries and two sixes. He brought up his century with a towering six off Gayle.
When the New Zealand innings ended, another debutant, Neil Broom, was also starring at the crease with two sixes in a rapid 24 off 17 deliveries as he and Guptill plundered 59 off the final 35 balls.
But the West Indies suffered from wayward deliveries and some sloppy fielding in which Guptill benefited from dropped catches on 16, 21 and 33.
New Zealand also profited from 26 extras including 11 wides and two no-balls that gave them an additional 13 deliveries from which to score.
Guptill opened the innings with the experienced Brendon McCullum but rather than play a support role he scored as freely as his senior partner from the start.
They took the score through to 68 in the 15th over before the West Indies finally made a catch stick when McCullum flailed at a Lionel Baker outswinger and was caught behind by Denesh Ramdin.
The recalled Mathew Sinclair, one of four changes to the New Zealand side that won the third ODI on Wednesday to level the series, discovered that international cricket still does not agree with him.
He lasted two overs before being dismissed in similar fashion to McCullum as Baker and Ramdin repeated their double act.
Ross Taylor then set about righting the New Zealand innings, piling on 144 with Guptill for the third wicket.
But when they began to push the score in the final 10 overs, Taylor went to belt Fidel Edwards out of the park only to completely miss the ball which crashed into his off stump.