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Guptill admits brutal century his best

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/03/2017

After trying to divert praise to his bat and his team-mates, Martin Guptill finally accepted his 180 against the Proteas was his finest one-day international innings for New Zealand.

Recalled opener Guptill was in a different class as his majestic 138-ball knock lifted the Black Caps to a seven-wicket win in Hamilton with five overs to spare.

World No.1 South Africa's 279-8 was expected to be stern challenge on a tricky Seddon Park surface but, after a careful start, the 30-year-old simply swatted the visitors attack aside.

An innings featuring 11 sixes broke a number of New Zealand records but Guptill was initially reluctant to accept any praise.

"Decent stick (bat) I've got, I'll put that one on ice until next time," he said.

Eventually, he was forced to reflect more deeply on an innings which almost single-handedly levelled the series 2-2 heading into a decider in Auckland on Saturday.

"It's pretty up there, possibly No.1. I'm reasonably happy with how today went without a lot of preparation," he said.

"It was difficult to bat all round: two-paced, turning, slower balls gripping, it wasn't easy, and I wanted to create a good partnership. I did that reasonably well and fortunately I was able to get a few out of the middle."

Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson marvelled at Guptill's timing in just his third innings of 2017 at any level, with his summer having been disrupted by hamstring injuries.

Williamson rated the knock higher than Guptill's spectacular 237 in the World Cup quarter-final against the West Indies in Wellington two years ago.

"I said to Martin when he came off, that's probably his best, and he's done it a few times to be fair so there are a few tight comparisons," Williamson said.

"To hit the ball the way he did and play with the freedom we know he can and do something special against the best team in the world was a special, world-class effort."

South African captain AB de Villiers, whose unbeaten 72 off 59 balls provided a spectacular finish to their innings, says devising a field for Guptill became near-impossible.

Fielding positions were often made redundant by the sheer power of the Aucklander's power hitting.

"I've always rated him as a player, he's had to work through a few things," de Villiers said.

"I was always hoping this day would never come, where he's figured out his game, playing it nice and late and he's moving well.

"I could sit here for quite some time and talk about that knock. It was a very special innings."

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