Australia Destroyed At Eden Park… Again

Australia will be seething after pulling the Blackcaps back to a par total at Eden Park, only for the run chase to be over within the space of ten overs.

At 6/41, no side in world cricket could have brought it back after New Zealand dominated the opening hour of the run chase with sublime bowling.

Chasing 208 to win, key batsmen for Australia failed to fire, including captain Steve Smith who chopped the ball onto his stumps.

David Warner will rue his decision to listen to batting partner George Bailey and not refer his LBW decision when replays showed the ball was clearly going over the stumps.

Warner’s wicket was the turning point of the match.

Proven match-winners George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell also failed to fire with the bat, all being dismissed cheaply.

Trent Boult and Matt Henry shared three wickets a piece for New Zealand.

A record partnership for Australia against New Zealand between Matthew Wade and James Faulkner wasn’t enough to claw Australia back into the game.

Earlier in the day Martin Guptill was unlucky not to reach another ODI century after being run out for 90.

Young batsman Henry Nicholls went past 50 in another impressive performance.

Some calm bowling on a ground with short boundaries saw Australia slow the run rate when New Zealand were looking at posting a score of 400.

GPSS: Munro and Guptill shine for Aces

Some average bowling by the Northern Knights saw Auckland Aces batsmen Colin Munro and Martin Guptill run riot in Hamilton tonight.

Electing to bat first, the Auckland Aces set their Northern rivals a target of 192 that proved to be sufficient for a crucial win that sealed a place in the finals.

Colin Munro smashed the ball to all parts, scoring 82 after Martin Guptill had earlier set the Aces well on their way with an impressive knock of 63 in partnership.

A defiant knock of 39 by Anderson was entertaining for the crowd, but the Northern Knights fell well short of their target and were beaten easily by Auckland at a margin of 38 runs.

The full story:

The Knights batsmen were immediately under the pump in their chase, with a RRPO of nine runs per over at a time, and it claimed the early wicket of Anton Devcich and captain Daniel Flynn who both couldn’t make a decent dent in the runs deficit.

Three sixes in one over saw a sudden partnership between Corey Anderson and Irish import Kevin O’Brien burst past 50 runs. With the RRPO now over 10, the slight window of hope for the Knights rested on the two power hitters.

A brilliant catch in the outfield by Lockie Fergusson dismissed O’Brien, the Knights batsman who had looked most at ease.

A potential broken toe for Corey Anderson didn’t help the Knights struggle in a chase that was always looking out of reach, but the injury didn’t stop Anderson finding the other side of the fence to entertain the home crowd.

Martin Guptill, one of the few Blackcaps opting to play domestic cricket prior to the Sri Lankan tour, got the ball rolling early for the Aces earlier in the night.

Guptill struck three big sixes to get himself going before strategically working himself to his 26th First Class T20 half century with controlled aggression and hitting gaps in the field.

Guptill was eventually dismissed for 63 in one of the Blackcaps openers’ better performances in the Aces uniform.

Rob Nicol pitched in with his typical well-timed stroke play for 29.

Some woeful bowling allowed Colin Munro to find Seddon Parks’ embankment with ease. A lacklustre bowling style with no variation fed into the batting strength of Munro resulting in a huge leakage of runs.

Munro reached 50 quickly, his eighth in First Class T20 cricket, and by the time the Knights bowlers tightened their lines, Munro had bolted and was finding the fence on almost every ball faced.

Munro was eventually dismissed for 82 off 39 balls.

At a glance:

Auckland Aces 191/4 (Colin Munro 82, Martin Guptill 63)

Northern Knights 154 (Corey Anderson 39, Kevin O’Brien 23)

Guptill’s test selection thoroughly deserved

Martin Guptill’s return to test cricket will, and should be watched with great interest during the upcoming English tour.

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Guptill has been absent from the test arena for the past couple of seasons.

The Blackcaps selectors have experimented with Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, and Tom Latham as the top of the order.

All of those batsmen performed well, but Blackcaps coach Mike Hesson says that Guptill can cover a “variety” of batting positions in the test matches.

In his test career, Guptill has two centuries with a highest score of 189 and an average just under 30.

Being the leading run scorer in the Cricket World Cup was always going to begin conversations on Guptill’s return to test cricket, and the Blackcaps selectors haven’t waited on making a decision that some of Guptill’s critics would call a gamble.

While Guptill is clearly a much better batsman in ODI cricket, his career is still young in the test arena and this is an opportunity that the Blackcaps opener has never been in a better position to take advantage of.

CWC 15: Blackcaps on the verge of history

The Blackcaps will take to the field tomorrow with an entire nation behind them as they fight, once again, to win a Cricket World Cup semi final.

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It was in Auckland back in 1992 that New Zealand batted first and set a modest total against Pakistan, only to see their effort come to nothing as the visitors chased the runs down to advance to Melbourne, and eventually win the tournament that year.

Semi finals are something of a sore spot for the Blackcaps from an historical perspective, and if the pressure becomes too much, history will repeat itself very quickly.

South Africa is a side full of dangerous players in every position.

Led at the top by two superb opening batsmen in the form of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla, the strength with the bat goes through arguably the world crickets toughest middle order with AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, and the explosive talent of David Miller as well.

Miller is a batsmen who if allowed to settle could smash 100 runs in a handful of over’s on a ground as tiny as Eden Park.

On the bowling front is one of the games best pace bowlers, Dale Steyn,

Steyn’s brilliance is backed up by spin bowler Imran Tahir, one of the leading wicket takers in the world cup so far.

It isn’t as if the Blackcaps haven’t performed well against teams with some seriously good cricketers either.

Australia, Sri Lanka, and England for that matter were no mugs and players like David Warner, Kumar Sangakarra, and Eoin Morgan don’t usually miss fire to often.

This Blackcaps unit hasn’t fluked their way to a semi final at this world cup – they have got there through some brilliant cricket especially with the ball.

The news of Adam Milne’s tournament-ending injury is a big blow for the Blackcaps in terms of a pace standpoint, a factor that could well have undone the likes of AB de Villiers early on.

Wether it is Mitchell McClenaghan or Matt Henry, the replacement for Milne goes into Eden Park with the ability to be just as potent with the white ball.

Runs will come easily at such a small ground with such powerful batsmen on both sides, but as the game against Australia proved for the Blackcaps, with strong bowling even the most powerful of batting line ups can be torn apart in good batting conditions.

How will Daniel Vettori go in what will likely be his last home game for his country?

Brendon McCullum as captain has been brilliant in the last month, but he needs to play an extremely mature role with the bat in this match, regardless of if the Blackcaps bat first or are chasing.

Martin Guptill averages 11 against South Africa, but traditionally performs well at Eden Park.

Based on form, Blackcaps should win and win well.

South Africa have been the talk of the tournament both prior to its beginning and during, but they have stumbled their way to the playoffs before easily taking care of Sri Lanka in the quarters.

But with such an explosive batting and bowling line up with amazing consistency, South Africa in the minds of many are still favourites in this semi final, despite the level of expectation that a packed Eden Park will give to the Blackcaps.

History is meant to be re written, and for both sides tomorrow is opportunity to do so.

But this is the time for the Blackcaps, it has to be now.

Thoughts to take away from Blackcaps loss

Despite the loss, many positives can be taken from yesterdays performance out on the park against Sri Lanka.

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Luke Ronchi proved once again that he is the man to bat in the crucial No.7 spot for the Blackcaps.

Despite not staying in as long as he needed to, Corey Anderson appears to be getting more and more comfortable as an allrounder batsmen who is expected to bat the Blackcaps out of match-losing situations.

Grant Elliot looked steady but eventually fell to a trap set by the Sri Lankans.

Disappointingly, Elliot lost his wicket playing the encouraged high cut shot that that Sri Lankan bowlers were wanting.

Perhaps most pleasing for Blackcaps fans however was the long awaited good performance with the bat by Daniel Vettori last night in Wellington.

His style has never been pleasing on the eye, but the boundaries were found with some beautiful timing of the shots and brave but controlled walking across the wickets.

While it would be a stretch to say Vettori is back in form with both the ball or the bat, the performance given the situation of the Blackcaps run chase was encouraging.

Vettori didn’t need to play the aggressive role batting alongside Ronchi, but chose to take it to the Sri Lankan bowlers anyway, the sign of a batsmen with experience and confidence about his game despite what recent results would suggest.

Vettori does need to start taking wickets however, his form with the ball since returning to the Blackcaps has been sub par at best.

However, major concern needs to be had surrounding the form of Martin Guptill.

Guptill’s golden duck was his second of the series, and barring his performance at Eden Park, Guptill has looked like a batsmen who doesn’t have his bearings out in the middle.

Replays using hotspot clearly showed an inside edge, either from the ball or a brush against the pad, but Guptill didn’t review and looked to be perplexed about what had just happened.

Guptill does hold the record for the Blackcaps highest ever ODI score of 189 not out against England, but that isn’t now and it certainly doesn’t appear to be helping the cause with his current form.

Guptill now heads into the Pakistan series under some serious pressure to perform, and perform he must.

Guptill shrugs off his own mind and bats well

If there was one story to come out of yesterdays rain-tarnished ODI in Auckland, it was Martin Guptill.

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Many are calling Guptill’s unbeaten knock of 66 a return to his form of old, others say that Guptill has “rediscovered his mojo”.

What Guptill did at Eden Park yesterday was bat with aggression, but he also did it with calm and with well thought out decision making at every turn.

To say Guptill had a clear mind out there would be pushing the envelope though.

At various times throughout his innings Guptill was very fidgety, he could be seen shaking himself off even when at the non strikers end.

But when it came time to take guard and watch the bowler run in towards him, Guptill put whatever was on his mind to one side and played one of his best innings for the Blackcaps in nearly a year.

The fidgeting, the shaking off, the deep breathes after each delivery faced, it was all a factor in this knock for mind.

Early on in the innings Guptill was walking across his crease and put himself at deep risk of LBW many times, and he was lucky not to chop the ball back onto his stumps on a couple of occasions.

Guptill has long been slammed by many in the media for his lack of production early on in his innings.

Yesterday on his home ground, Guptill was slow off the line again. But once Guptill kept that head down and smashed the ball for six on the onside, it was a different story altogether.

Guptill was proactive and quick to make decisions especially with his running between the wickets.

Going forward the challenge for Guptill will be consistency. He must perform this well away from Eden Park. In recent seasons some of Guptill’s best batting in the black jersey has been at his home ground of Eden, that must change heading into the World Cup.

The strike rate is good, because with Brendon McCullum likely to play the aggressive role throughout the World Cup at the top of the order, Guptill is going to have time to play himself in and get a feel for conditions, providing McCullum stays with him at the crease however.

But after ten to twenty deliveries, Guptill is going to have to show some aggression no matter the situation because the likes of Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, and especially Ross Taylor are all slow starters who like Guptill, have to work into their innings early on.

Guptill should be proud of himself today though.

Perhaps his clear intent to fidget around after each ball and shrug himself off is the key to forging together decent scores in his opening role.