Martin Guptill displayed a mix of grace and power as he scored a 48-ball 80 © Getty Images (File Photo)
Martin Guptill displayed a mix of grace and power as he scored a 48-ball 80 © Getty Images (File Photo)

Martin Guptill exposed the collective fallacy of all the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchisees that snubbed him in the auction earlier this year, with a sublime knock of 80 from 48 balls as he led New Zealand to an imposing total of 180 for 5 in 20 overs against Pakistan in the 23rd match of the T20 World Cup 2016. The pitch was not particularly conducive to the bowlers, but Guptill made it look easier than it was. In the powerplay he played the signature shots with the long extension of arms for sixes ranging from long on to long off. It was a sheer delight to watch. He showed the penchant and aptitude to adapt his shot selections as phases of the innings demanded. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 2016, Super 10 Group 2, Macth 23 at Mohali 

Guptill was not perturbed by the apparent struggles of Kane Williamson, his opening partner, who managed to score just 17 off 21 balls. Williamson, though, played an important role of rotating strike and maximising Guptill’s form in the powerplay. Guptill was equally comfortable against all types of bowlers. LIVE CRICKET BLOG: New Zealand vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 2016, Super 10 Group 2, Macth 23 at Mohali 

His exploits enabled New Zealand to score 55 for 0 in the powerplay period. Pakistan tasted their first success in the eighth over, when Williamson, failing to read a slower ball, drove a full delivery from Mohammad Irfan straight to cover. The next batsman in Colin Munro did not last too long either.

Munro managed to score just seven runs of six balls when he brought his own peril with a reverse sweep off Shahid Afridi which was pounced at deep point/deep square leg. At that stage, things started looking a little bit susceptible for the Black Caps, but Guptill found a reliable partner in Corey Anderson as the duo started scoring runs freely.

Pakistan tasted their next success only in the 15th over, and it was the big fish Guptill. A deserving candidate in Mohammad Sami got the breakthrough. It cramped Guptill for room with a back of a length delivery on the middle stump line, which Guptill erroneously tried to run down to third man, getting the inside edge on the stumps instead.

Anderson was dismissed soon after for 21 off 14 balls, becoming Afridi’s second victim. He tried to smash him over long off, but failed to get it with the meat of the bat and was caught by the man stationed there. After these dismissals Pakistan were able to keep New Zealand in check.

Ross Taylor struggled for form. He looked very scratchy and the smart bowling by the Pakistan bowlers later in the innings did not allow him to give New Zealand the late impetus to a desired degree. Luke Ronchi, however, got some timing going for him and dealt Pakistan a few blows. One shot where he shimmied down to Irfan and picked the ball up to launch it over long off, was spectacular in timing and direction.

However, Ronchi bore the brunt of the pressure Taylor brought upon New Zealand. He became Sami’s second scalp when he tried to sweetly time a lower full toss over point, but failed to get the elevation to clear Shaoib Malik there. Taylor managed to score a few runs in the final over off Amir, including a six and a four. He undid the damage he created earlier and finished with a respectable score of 36 from 23 balls.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 180 for 5 (Martin Guptill 80, Ross Taylor 36; Mohammad Sami 2 for 23) vs Pakistan.

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(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)