Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
New Zealand opener Martin Guptill hammered an entertaining 60 runs to not only lead the Black Caps to a convincing 32-run win over South Africa in Centurion, but also ensure that the series ended as a 1-1 draw.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson would have been pleased with his decision to bat first as he and Guptill laid the foundations with a 52-run partnership before Guptill began to take over.
Guptill ended up smashing 60 off 35 balls, which included six boundaries and three sixes, before he was caught by David Miller off the bowling of Farhaan Behardien.
Following Guptill’s dismissal, James Neesham, Grant Elliott and Colin Munro chipped in with scores of 28, 20 and 18 respectively to carry New Zealand to 177/7 off their 20 overs.
Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Behardien, David Wiese, Aaron Phangiso and Eddie Leie chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 178 to win, South Africa got off to a poor start as openers Morne van Wyk and Hashim Amla were dismissed for three and 14 respectively.
With wickets continuing to fall at regular intervals, Behardien tried to stem the bleeding with his quickfire 36. Even though Miller and Rilee Rossouw supported him with scores of 29 and 26 respectively, the Proteas still fell well short of their target.
Ish Sodhi, Mitchell McClenaghan and Nathan McCullum took two wickets apiece, while Neesham and Adam Milne claimed one wicket each.
South Africa skipper AB de Villiers was gutted to have lost, and said: “I thought they batted pretty well, a little bit above par. But we lost wickets at crucial times. They were 20 above par. We started off slowly and credit to New Zealand for putting us under pressure. We will have to go back to the drawing board and work on with the ball. The wicket was a little bit up and down. Unfortunate, we came short. Everybody got a run and got a chance to perform. Faf will come back from injury, Dale will be back and most guys got an opportunity.”
Williamson was pleased to have ended the series as a 1-1 draw, and said: “It [The knee] is okay. I think overall it was an improved effort from us. The wicket slowed and it was probably tough to bat second. It is always important to close out the overs, the way the boys coped and put pressure back on with a smart bowling performance. We are a young [side] and we stepped up and [will] keep building going into the ODIs.”
Guptill was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, and said: “I like to give myself some chance early. South Africa are a tough opposition and luckily I got some runs. It was a bit skiddy. Kane and I wanted to build a partnership. We are looking forward to the one-dayers.”