World Cup 2015: New Zealand March 22, 2015

Hesson doesn't mind quick turnaround

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Best hundred? Mike Hesson said, "I think that's fair" © ICC

Mike Hesson has called Martin Guptill's unbeaten 237 a "surreal" performance but New Zealand do not have much time to sit back and soak up the acclaim with just a 48-hour turnaround to their semi-final against South Africa at Eden Park.

It is a marked difference to recent build-ups for New Zealand who have had a week between fixtures since playing England in Wellington last month, but that is a change that pleases Hesson who said he would much rather "not have a week to think about it" before the next crunch match.

There was, however, the morning after to reflect on Guptill's innings which finished as the second highest ODI score. In all, his runs came off 163 balls with 24 fours and 11 sixes. But while the shots which peppered the crowd - and even hit the roof - were what got the 30,000 sell-out in raptures, for Hesson it was how Guptill set up his innings which stood out.

"The way the innings was paced to start with, he set the tone early on in terms of playing nice and straight, adapted to conditions and timed every ball from about 30 overs on," Hesson said. "It's pretty surreal really, everyone in the changing room has seen some pretty special things at this World Cup but that was another one to add to the list.

"Martin works hard at his game, he's pretty hard on himself. He tries to get as much advice as he can and puts that into practice. He deserves everything he gets, he goes down to the ground early and hits a lot of balls. He's that sort of player, likes to hit the ball and feel good about himself and obviously he's feeling pretty good right now."

When pushed about whether it was the best innings he had seen, Hesson did not argue against it. "I think that's fair. The occasion, the fact it was turned into a match-winning hundred certainly puts it up there."

Guptill reached his hundred in the 35th over which coincided with taking the Powerplay. The final 15 overs of the innings produced 206 runs in the latest example of the carnage that is now possible. "The message had been it was a tough enough wicket to get in on, so once you were in had to make the most of it," Hesson said. "He just went whoosh after that."

A travel day will now be followed by one practice session before they face South Africa, the team they beat in a feisty quarter-final at the 2011 World Cup, on the ground where they held on to overcome Australia by one wicket. "Someone said it was like a jungle last time," Grant Elliott said of last month's match.

Mike Hesson on South Africa: "That we were able to face their bowlers and were able to line them up which is always helpful. © Getty Images

South Africa's previous match at Eden Park was a defeat against Pakistan which shook AB de Villiers and his team. New Zealand have overturned them recently, too, albeit in a warm-up match in Christchurch. On that occasion, South Africa insisted on not reading much into the result and it was certainly the home side appeared more eager for on the day.

"We faced them at the start of the campaign so we've had a bit of a look," Hesson said. "We'll take something from that, also that we were able to face their bowlers and were able to line them up which is always helpful."

South Africa will rather look back a few months, to October, when they secured a 2-0 series victory in early-season New Zealand conditions. Their pace attack twice made short work of the top order, but with an unbeaten World Cup campaign behind them Hesson believes much has changed.

"That was the start of a six-month campaign and it's probably fair to say South Africa were better prepared than us," he said. "A lot has changed, it was on different pitches. They hit us hard early and we didn't respond very well."

Since those reversals, New Zealand have not put a foot wrong with two series victories against Pakistan and one against Sri Lanka leading into the World Cup. The victory against West Indies made it 16 wins in the last 21 matches. "We can't get too far ahead of ourselves but yesterday was a huge game for us, a potential banana-skin game against a side that blow hot and cold. So to put in a performance like that was extremely pleasing," Hesson said.

He added there were a "few niggles" in the camp due to the soft outfield in Wellington and players will be assessed in Auckland on Monday. However, there were no immediate concerns over anyone being unavailable for the semi-final.

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2015, 10:14 GMT

    only a fool could predict the outcome of these semi finals. NZ and SA have similar approach NZ has an experienced spinner who could bowl better and restrict scoring.

  • Nik on March 22, 2015, 23:41 GMT

    Well said @Henare Mihaere. From a spectators view, NZ have played the most attractive cricket (and fair as well). They are definitely a team for the future (can't wait for the tests against the aussies). Miline will be missed but I think they have enough to still get on top of SA. Hoping for a Ind vs NZ final but more likely for a NZ vs Aus final with NZ just taking it out....just.

  • stewey on March 22, 2015, 23:22 GMT

    All these SA'fers saying it will be an easy victory,... yeah right. It will be a lot closer than you think.

  • Garry on March 22, 2015, 22:47 GMT

    This is the real test for us, SA are a very very good team and they are going to be very hungry. Wouldn't read anything into the warm up or SA series win here (without our 2 best batsman, a woefully out of form Guptil and our first ODI in about 8 months). Any other ground I would say SA but the madness of Eden Park balances it out.

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2015, 19:20 GMT

    What I like about this NZ team is that they are paving their own path - not letting history define how they play. They are aggressive, bold and innovative in their approach and unlike teams before, they have the genuine players to compliment this way they are playing the game. I can only hope for a NZ win tomorrow - they stand a better chance than any other NZ team but should the result not go our way, it would be hard to argue that NZ cricket isn't better for the journey our boys have encapsulated our country with #backtheblackcaps

  • Derek on March 22, 2015, 11:16 GMT

    Worldcup 2019 can have 8 teams (ind,bang), (SA,ZIM,KEN), NZ, AUS, (PAK,AFG,UAE), (WI,USA,BERMUDA), (ENG,SCO,IRE) and SL. Not sure if WI deserve inclusion even on mere commercial standing.

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2015, 10:34 GMT

    If NZvSA was the second semi-final, the winner has a 3 day turnaround until the final, with an international flight in the middle. I'm sure they'd rather opt for this 3 day turnaround now and 5 day turnaround between semi and the final should they win it. Is likely the exact reason why CWC scheduled the first semi to be in NZ, regardless of who was in it.

  • Anirudh on March 22, 2015, 9:30 GMT

    The highlight of this whole NZ campaign has been their agressive approach well led by mccullumm. he wants to attack the opposition and the players have responded very well and are willing to take on the opposition.just look at boult from qf baz wanted 10 overs from him on a trot and he bowled tirelessly and ended up getting important wickets.even someone like vettori has found his old magic.this is possible only because the pacers are attacking that makes the batsman go at vettori opening up his wicket taking possibilities.faith in players has also been a key guptill taylor and milne have been good examples.one more thing which nz have done better than others is the fielding how often have we seen 2-4 players running after the ball they are committed and determined and clicking at the right time may well beat abd s sa and probabaly take the cup at home

  • Nish on March 22, 2015, 8:36 GMT

    Two cracking semi-finals amongst undoubtedly the four best teams in the world with no clear favourites - a really exciting week lies ahead & can't wait to watch these matches!

  • seelan on March 22, 2015, 7:35 GMT

    This will easily fall in to the proteas hand, we had enough time to reflect o our achievement and focus on the game to come, the tropy is coming to Africa

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