Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
New Zealand opener Martin Guptill scored a match-winning 103 not out to lead his side to a convincing eight-wicket win over South Africa in the second ODI in Potchefstroom.
Guptill was well supported by fellow opener Tom Latham, whose knock of 64 helped the Black Caps level the series at 1-1.
However, South Africa batsman Farhaan Behardien deserves some credit as he scored a valiant 70.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers would have been mulling over his decision to bat first as Behardien was the only batsman to make a valuable contribution with the bat.
Other than Behardien’s 70, which came off 87 balls and included five boundaries and a six, a few other batsmen – Rilee Rossouw and de Villiers – got off to promising starts but were unable to convert it into big scores. As a result of this, the Proteas were bowled out for 204.
Doug Bracewell was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Adam Milne snapped up two and Ish Sodhi and Grant Elliott chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 205 to win, New Zealand got off to a superb start as Guptill and Latham amassed a 126-run partnership before Latham was dismissed by Imran Tahir for 64 off 81 balls, which included eight boundaries.
Despite losing captain Kane Williamson soon after, Guptill and debutant George Worker mopped up the remaining runs to lead their side to a comfortable win.
Guptill ended up making 103 off 134 balls, which included nine boundaries and three sixes, while Worker remained undefeated on 20 off 39 deliveries, which included one boundary.
Tahir and Aaron Phangiso claimed one wicket each.
De Villiers was not impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “I don’t think we had enough runs. We came out with a good mindset to defend on the field, but it never went our way, we were never in the game. We were about 50 runs short. We did not bat well, did not get partnerships upfront, put a lot of pressure on the middle order, we could not kick on at the end. If we would have got 250, it would have been a good score. Probably would have gone with the ball first (at the toss). Always seen what he (Behardien) is capable of at domestic level and now he is starting to show that at international level.”
Williamson was delighted to have levelled the series at 1-1, and said: “Coming out on a surface quite different, it was good to see the guys adapting. It was holding on the surface. Slower bowlers were hard to play. It is hard for a seamer who can bowl 140 to roll the fingers over but it is a job you have to do. Definitely different surface than we thought. Starting at 10 we thought there might be a little swing. After three-four overs we changed our plan and the way the guys executed was fantastic. Great effort with the ball, and then the way the openers batted.
“Most pleasing thing is the learning from the first innings. When the ball was hard they saw off the threat, and cashed in on the other bowlers. Smart innings from Tom and Guptill. We will be on a different surface in Durban and the boys will have to adapt again.”
Guptill was named Man of the Match, and said: “We were lucky with the way Tom and I got away at the start. Made sure we did not lose wickets in a clump during the middle. The up and down nature (of the pitch), was pretty tough. Struggled a wee bit today but managed to bat through.”