On-song Guptill draws first blood
Martin Guptill's pugnacious unbeaten 78 powered New Zealand to a six-wicket win over South Africa at Wellington in the first of three Twenty20 internationals.
Tim Southee took 3-28 from four overs as the Proteas required a late rally, led by JP Duminy and Justin Ontong, to post a competitive total of 147 for six.
Guptill, who averaged over 100 during the limited-overs leg of Zimbabwe’s recent tour, smashed five fours and four sixes from 55 balls in his sixth straight international fifty to ensure victory.
In a contest immediately following England women’s six-wicket defeat of their hosts, Brendon McCullum - continuing to deputise for the injured Ross Taylor - won the toss.
South Africa openers Richard Levi and Hashim Amla put on 24 in 21 deliveries before the latter was spectacularly run out by Guptill as batsman and fielder both dived for the stumps.
That began a clatter of three wickets for 14 runs with Colin Ingram stumped off Nathan McCullum and Levi holing out to long-on off Southee.
When Guptill took a stunning catch at short cover off Ronnie Hira to remove skipper AB de Villiers, the tourists were 52 for four.
Ontong was reprieved after top-edging Rob Nicol to keeper Brendon McCullum, and responded by launching Kane Williamson for four successive sixes.
He fell for 32 to a superb low return catch by Southee to end a partnership of 50 in 6.2 overs with Duminy, who followed soon after for 41 when he top-edged a hook at Southee to fine-leg.
Albie Morkel and Johan Botha put on an unbroken 20 in 13 balls, but the Black Caps remained favourites.
Guptill launched Lonwabo Tsotsobe for two colossal leg-side sixes in one over as he and opening partner Nicol put on 49, before the latter chipped Juan Theron’s first ball to long-on.
A six into the sightscreen off Morne Morkel extended Guptill’s run of half-centuries to seven in all formats, but Brendon McCullum was bowled by Duminy via bat and pad after being beaten by sharp turn.
Guptill won another race to the stumps, beating Morne Morkel’s dive to make his ground, but partner Williamson then misjudged a single and was run out for 24.
Colin de Grandhomme holed out to leg off Morne Morkel, but Guptill powered on - slapping Theron for four despite the previous ball having hit him in the head.
Six were needed from the last over, bowled by Botha, and James Franklin took just two balls to finish the job.