© Getty Images
Martin Guptill has not played Test cricket in last two years © Getty Images

New Zealand‘s batsman Martin Guptill warmed up for his anticipated return to Test cricket next week with a quickfire fifty on Saturday in the Black Caps’ final warm-up fixture before their series opener with England. Guptill was 61 not out in a second innings total of 89 for two at stumps on the third day of four against Worcestershire, having faced 85 balls including seven fours and two sixes.

The 28-year-old opener was the leading run-scorer at the recent one-day World Cup, where New Zealand reached the final before losing to co-hosts Australia. His tally of 547 runs included a remarkable 237 not out against the West Indies — the highest individual score in the tournament’s 40-year history — during a quarter-final win in Wellington.

Last month, Guptill scored a maiden first-class double century, making 227 off just 176 balls for English county side Derbyshire against Gloucestershire. But the Auckland batsman has not played Test cricket, in which he averages a modest 29.62, since winning the last of his 31 caps in the five-day game during New Zealand’s last tour of England two years ago.

Earlier on Saturday, Worcestershire made 291 for seven declared in reply to the tourists’ 261 for nine declared. Ross Whiteley top-scored with an unbeaten century after the Midlands county, who resumed on 65 for one, quickly declined to 75 for four with England all-rounder Mooen Ali among a trio of batsmen who all fell cheaply. Several New Zealand pacemen took two wickets apiece, with left-armer Neil Wagner taking two for 17 in 14 overs. Guptill’s innings then gave New Zealand a lead of 59 heading into the last day.