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Guptill to be overlooked for Proteas Tests

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/03/2017 Angelo Risso
Martin Guptill © Phil Walter/Getty Images Martin Guptill

Black Caps ace Martin Guptill will not be selected for the side's Test series against South Africa despite a stunning return to ODI cricket.

The 30-year-old opener, out for New Zealand's first three home ODIs against the Proteas with a hamstring issue, rocketed his way to an unbeaten 180 in Wednesday's five-wicket win in Hamilton.

The victory keeps the Kiwis alive in the five-match ODI series, with the decider to take place on Saturday in Auckland.

Yet despite his extraordinary innings, which included 15 boundaries and 11 sixes, Black Caps mentor Mike Hesson said Guptill would play no role in this month's Tests in Dunedin, Wellington and Hamilton.

The Aucklander has typically struggled for form in the five-day format, averaging 44 with the white ball but just 29.4 with the swing-friendly red.

In his 26 Test innings since November 2015, Guptill has scored fewer than 20 runs on 14 occasions, compelling Hesson to demote him in October last year.

But Hesson didn't completely close the door on the prospect of Guptill in whites, saying he could push his way into selection in the middle order.

He would first have to prove his worth in the new role at first-class level for Auckland, who are receptive to the change.

"We certainly gave batting at the top of the order a fairly good crack, but batting in the middle order is something we're keen to explore," Hesson said.

"At the moment it's a difficult spot to find, our Test team has just won four on the bounce and that middle order has performed pretty well."

Irrespective of any Test berth, Hesson said Guptill's showing on a slow Seddon Park wicket was one of the finest innings he'd ever witnessed.

The 138-ball feat was made all the more impressive and surprising by Guptill's relative rustiness at the crease and recent injury return.

"It's probably as good as it gets in terms of the quality of ball-striking on a tough surface against quality opposition, and the pressure," Hesson said.

"Martin's really confident in his game and reached a level of maturity where he's consistent in how he prepares and perhaps doesn't ride the highs and lows."

Paceman Matt Henry has been recalled to the group for Saturday's decider at Eden Park, with Jeetan Patel a surprise inclusion in Wednesday's win.

Hesson said his bowling attack, particularly Trent Boult and Tim Southee, would have to produce their best bowling performance yet to secure victory.

The pair struggled to nullify talisman AB de Villiers in Waikato and shipped 70 runs apiece but had previously bowled well in the Christchurch ODI win.

"Your margin for error is small and you have to execute with some precision," Hesson said.

"We've been able to get South Africa six-down a few times before the 40-over mark which is a big KPI (key performance indicator), the next step is getting past that."

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