Veteran batsman Martin Guptill yesterday returned to form with a blistering 97, as New Zealand held on for a nail-biting win over Australia in the second Twenty20 international in Dunedin.
Guptill’s Black Caps set Australia a challenging target of 220 after losing the toss, but were made to sweat as Australia came within four runs of victory.
Both sides took advantage of University Oval’s short boundaries in a thrilling match that featured 30 sixes and 434 runs at an average of 10.9 an over.
Marcus Stoinis starred for Australia with 78 from 37 balls, but Guptill’s 97 from 50 laid the foundation for New Zealand’s win.
Black Caps spinner Mitchell Santner also shone amid the batting fireworks, taking 4-31, while Australia paceman Kane Richardson managed 3-43.
New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham was another exceptional performer, taking two wickets in the final over when a rampant Australia needed 15 runs for victory.
Neesham also scored an undefeated 45, including six sixes.
The result puts New Zealand 2-0 up in the five-match series, on the brink of a shock win over the world’s second-ranked Twenty20 team.
Guptill’s innings gave him the record for the most sixes in Twenty20 internationals with 132, taking him past India’s Rohit Sharma on 127.
The 34-year-old clubbed the ball over the boundary eight times, bludgeoning all comers in the Australia attack. He fell just short of his third Twenty20 century after being caught trying to hit a Daniel Sams delivery out of the ground.
Guptill averaged only 17 in the series against the West Indies and Pakistan, then managed just 11.5 in the domestic competition before picking up a hamstring injury.
Pressure on the opener grew when he made a duck in the first match against Australia on Monday, with calls for uncapped Finn Allen to join the squad.
He answered his critics with a return to his big-hitting best, bringing up 50 off 27 balls, with eight boundaries, including four sixes.
Guptill said he had not changed his approach during the game-turning innings.
“I just went out and tried to do the best I could — fortunately for me it came off,” he said.
Although Guptill provided fireworks at one end, Kane Williamson was steady at the other, scoring 53 off 35 balls.
ENGLAND VS INDIA
AFP, AHMEDABAD, India
England skipper Joe Root yesterday claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul, as India were bowled out for 145 in the day-night third Test.
India led by 33 after routing England for 112 on the first day at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.
India resumed on 99-3 and Jack Leach quickly removed Ajinkya Rahane for 7 and Rohit Sharma for 66 with his left-arm spin on a viciously turning track.
Root replaced fast bowler James Anderson and struck with his first ball to have Rishabh Pant caught behind for 1.
The England captain, playing his 102nd Test, struck twice in an over to send back Washington Sundar and Axar Patel, both for a duck, and to silence the home crowd.
He wrapped up the tail to return figures of 5-8 runs in 6.2 overs. The umpires called an early tea after the last wicket fell.
India and England were tied 1-1 going into the third of the four matches that could decide which of the teams go into the World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
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