Martin Guptill roared back from injury with a record-breaking 180 as New Zealand thrashed South Africa by seven wickets to level the one-day international series in Hamilton yesterday.
Guptill’s score was the highest by a New Zealand player in an ODI chase and allowed the Black Caps to overhaul the target of 280 with five overs to spare.
The result leveled the five-match series at 2-2, setting up a decider in Auckland on Saturday.
It was a stunning return for Guptill, who showed no ill effects from being sidelined for five weeks with hamstring problems.
He posted the highest-ever ODI score for his nation against the Proteas and his 180-run partnership with Ross Taylor (66) was also a new benchmark against South Africa.
“It was one of those innings where everything went to plan, but I’ve got to park it pretty quickly because we’ve got another game in Eden Park in a few days,” Guptill said.
Hitting the ball crisply from the outset, Guptill debunked expectations that the Seddon Park pitch would become a spinners’ paradise as the match wore on.
The opposite proved true, with Black Caps spinner Jeetan Patel enjoying early success before batsmen from both sides showed that runs were there for the taking on an increasingly docile deck.
That meant South Africa’s total of 279-8 — made after winning the toss and opting to bat — was not as challenging as it initially appeared.
Proteas captain A.B. de Villiers top-scored for his side with an unbeaten 72, while Faf du Plessis made 67, Hashim Amla 40 and Wayne Parnell 29 off 12 deliveries.
With South Africa looking shaky at 158-6, De Villiers worked with Chris Morris (28) and Parnell to give them a defendable total.
De Villiers said it should have been enough.
He refused to use Guptill’s form as an excuse for his side, blaming their failure to take wickets.
“It was a fantastic knock by Martin, he looked unstoppable tonight, but there are areas where we need to improve and we’ll be working on that,” he said.
South Africa were helped by a New Zealand attack who bled 72 runs off the final five overs.
However, Guptill’s rapid start, bringing up 50 off 38 deliveries, showed the way. He was given out LBW on 62, but the decision was overturned on review and Guptill went on to make 100 off 82 deliveries, his 12th ODI century.
He finished the innings with 180 off 138 deliveries, including 15 fours and 11 sixes.
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