Cricket-Guptill
New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill waves to the crowd as he leaves the field after being dismissed for a sizzling 97 runs during their second T20 International against Australia in Dunedin on Thursday. Image Credit: AP

Martin Guptill, a rock behind the emergence of New Zealand as a formidable force in white ball cricket, proved the cliche on form vis-a-vis class once again. Under pressure for a poor run of scores in recent matches, he exploded in time as his power-packed 97 helped New Zealand to a thrilling four-run win over Australia in the second T20 match in Dunedin on Thursday.

New Zealand extended their lead to 2-0 in the five-match series after their 53-run win in Christchurch.

Opener Guptill smashed 97 off 50 balls, missing out on what could have been his third century in T20s, and shared a 131-run partnership with captain Kane Williamson (53) as New Zealand put 219 for seven on the board and set an imposing chase in front of a sell-out crowd at University Oval.

“Outstanding knock from Martin,” Williamson said.

“The presence he brings at the top of the order along with that power game that he has, it was great to see that today.”

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Guptill was out for a duck in Christchurch and made a total of 46 runs in three T20I’s against Pakistan in December. “I’m a little bit cooked at the moment but it’s nice to get some runs and another win,” said the 34-year-old.

“My mind has been clear. Things just haven’t gone my way.”

While Guptill was relieved, Australia captain Aaron Finch’s struggles continued with his dismissal for 12 by legspinner Ish Sodhi.

Finch scored one run in Christchurch and was passed over in the Indian Premier League auction after managing just 179 runs at 13.76 from 13 innings in a poor Big Bash League campaign for the Melbourne Renegades.

New Zealand’s bowlers looked set to wrap the match up quickly when Mitch Santner (4-31) reduced Australia to 113 for six, having both Ashton Agar and Mitchell Marsh out for ducks in consecutive balls. But Marcus Stoinis (78) and Daniel Sams (41) threatened to steal the match as they attacked the short boundaries with gusto in a quickfire 92-run partnership.

Australia needed 15 runs off the last over but James Neesham had Sams caught in front of the deep midwicket boundary with the first ball.

Stoinis needed a six and a four in two balls to win the game but was caught slogging to long-on as Australia finished 215 for eight.

“I thought we didnt bowl too badly today,” said Finch.

“But Guptill played a brilliant innings in that partnership with Kane, built a lot of momentum.” The series continues in Wellington on March 3.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 219 for seven off 20 overs vs Australia 215 for eight off 20 overs.