Centurion Guptill stars in Taylor-made last-ball win

AFP, EAST LONDON, South Africa

Tue, Dec 25, 2012 - Page 19

Advice from former captain Ross Taylor helped Martin Guptill to hit a thrilling century and clinch a last-ball, eight-wicket victory for New Zealand in the second Twenty20 international against South Africa at Buffalo Park on Sunday.

“Ross Taylor was in touch from back home and he told me just to relax and play each ball as it came,” said Guptill of a call from Taylor, who was unavailable for the tour after losing the captaincy in controversial circumstances.

Guptill finished with 101 not out off 69 balls, hitting the last ball of the match from Rory Kleinveldt over cover for four to enable New Zealand to reach a target of 169 in a match reduced to 19 overs a side because of a floodlight failure.

The result enabled New Zealand to level the three-match series with the decider to be played in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

Guptill missed his side’s eight-wicket defeat in the first match in Durban on Friday because of a stomach ailment, but the opening batsman showed his value to the team on Sunday by slamming six sixes and eight fours. He became the second New Zealander, after captain Brendon McCullum, to hit a century in a Twenty20 international.

“Martin Guptill’s innings was out of the top drawer, especially for a guy who was not selected [for the first match] through sickness,” McCullum said.

Guptill had some good fortune in a frantic finish as damp mist spread across the ground. He was caught off Ryan McLaren when he was on 87, but gained a reprieve when the delivery was no-balled because it was too high. Two runs later he hit a ball from Morne Morkel high in the air toward point, but Robin Peterson put down the chance.

South Africa scored 165-5 after a floodlight failure caused a 50-minute delay. They were 128-2 after 16.1 overs when the lights on one of four towers went out.

Henry Davids hit 55 and captain Faf du Plessis made 63 for South Africa. New Zealand seam bowler Doug Bracewell took three wickets in four balls in the final over, all from catches in the deep, to finish with 3-33.

Du Plessis, who made his runs off 43 balls, shared partnerships of 68 for the second wicket with Davids and 79 for the third wicket with David Miller, who hit 33 off 18 deliveries.

Davids, playing in his second international match, made a maiden 50 before falling to a sensational catch by Jimmy Neesham, running back and diving full length to hold a lofted drive just inside the long-off boundary.