India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 1st day November 12, 2010

Guptill makes the most of his fortune

ESPNcricinfo staff
For New Zealand's No. 3, conquering the turning ball was one of the big challenges in his comeback innings

In the first Test, it was a man now walking the straight and narrow and a debutant that took the game away from India. Having travelled a thousand miles south-east to Hyderabad, they were thwarted for half the day by an opening bat coming off a pair, and a No. 3 not considered good enough to play the first Test.

Martin Guptill could be forgiven for thinking that he got the chop because of his poor form in the one-day arena. His last Test innings had been 58 against Australia in March, and BJ Watling, who replaced him at the Motera, had only passed 50 once in 10 attempts. Given his chance here, he used up his quota of luck very early on. Sreesanth produced a peach to take the outside edge when he had just 5, and Guptill was pretty much into the plush changing room by the time Kumar Dharmasena had a change of heart.

"I'm not sure who refers it," said Guptill after the day's play. "I was pretty much in the tunnel on the way out when I got called back. I was pretty angry with myself, and was preparing to sit down and ponder what happened. Getting called back gave me a second wind and I carried on from there."

There was one more kiss from Dame Fortune when he had 11, with MS Dhoni unable to hold on to a sharp chance off Harbhajan Singh's bowling, and Guptill made India pay either side of lunch with some superb strokes, especially down the ground. He and Tim McIntosh added 147, a stand in which he was the aggressor, growing in confidence with each over that went by.

McIntosh's hundred was even more unexpected given how he had struggled at the Motera. No opening batsman from New Zealand had scored a century overseas since Stephen Fleming at Trent Bridge in 2004, and only 11 players have ever rebounded from a pair with a hundred. Here, the first half of his innings was patchy, but by the time he stepped out to Pragyan Ojha and swatted him into the stand at midwicket, he too had taken an infusion of confidence. The lovely lofted drive off Harbhajan that took him to 98 was another stroke that caught the eye, illustrating just how his mood had changed during the course of the innings.

"We were just telling each other to keep backing ourselves and be positive," Guptill said. "The wicket is pretty flat, but the Indians bowled in some pretty demanding areas and we tailored our games to counter that. We got through it well and put on a good partnership. It really gave the momentum. It was disappointing to lose Tim at the end of the day but that's how cricket goes. Hopefully, we can push on tomorrow and get a big total on the board."

For Guptill, whose back-foot play hasn't always been convincing, conquering the turning ball was the biggest challenge. "I've worked on playing spin very hard over the last year or so," he said. "I was just telling myself to be positive. I showed intent and got through it very well."

"I think we need to get 500. That would be a competitive score. If our bowlers can put in a good performance, we can rock n roll India."
Martin Guptill

Even though they had India reeling at 15 for 5 in the second innings in Ahmedabad, Guptill's assessment of what would be a par score said much about the fear factor that India's batting line-up can inspire. "I think we need to get 500," he said. "That would be a competitive score. If our bowlers can put in a good performance, we can rock n roll India."

Both sides appeared to be far happier with the surface prepared than they had been in Ahmedabad. "There's something in it for everyone," said Guptill. "There's a lot more pace in the wicket. The batsmen can drive down the ground with comfort. There's more bounce for the bowlers. That's good for the game."

Eric Simons, India's bowling coach, was a little more circumspect. "One can really only assess the wicket once you get to days three and four," he said. "We call it moving days when the Test really moves forward. But on first opinion we think there's more in it for us, the way our bowling line-up is set up. There seems to be a bit more bounce for the spinners in particular. We're all quite pleased with the carry the seamers got as well. We've started seeing some reverse which is something that our seamers can exploit."

They'll need to on the second day if Jesse Ryder and New Zealand aren't to reprise the doughty batting that so nearly embarrassed India in the opening game.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gaurav on November 13, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    NZ 350 all out , guys like Lakmal who hate Indian cricket just for the sake of it always start celebrating TOO EARLY, in last match when India was in spot of bother , some of these guys came and started making comments as if its end of Indian cricket, and then these guys cry that Indian fans are arrogant .

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    @Lakmal Physics Eat "YOUR WORDS" .331/9 at lunch on day 2!

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2010, 5:34 GMT

    @LakmalPhysics yes there's an exaggerated no. 1 team in cricket at the moment but that's in ODIs and not in tests. I guess you know which team i'm referring to. they are not even asian champs (remember asia cup final) let alone world no 1

  • James on November 13, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    People often forget that BCCIs financial clout has very little to do with India's no. 1 test ranking. Its just that they have won more and lost less than the other teams in the recent past. If they screw up against teams like NZ, they will lose their ranking. But in the recent past, they have earned the points because they have showed their mettle against the teams that matter currently- such as Australia, and England. As long as the other teams remain too weak to earn points to surpass India, India deserves their ranking. And NZ had slid to a position from where they could only improve. Loss of players such as Bond, Oram, Ian Obrien, Fleming, Mills etc over a short period for an already depleted side, was a big blow. Now one can see that they are rebuilding and hopefully should improve soon.

  • Summer on November 13, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    @ Anshuman .. Our Murali is playing Ranji matches. Who would he replace in playing XI, had he been selected ?

  • Summer on November 13, 2010, 3:58 GMT

    @ scotty12354 .. Majority of the Indian fans and players are in favor of UDRS. But Dhoni has his own reasons. One thing I don't understand is: Why don't ICC make it compulsory to use ?

  • Summer on November 13, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Btw, NZ is playing very good cricket. Williamson is impressive.

  • Summer on November 13, 2010, 3:49 GMT

    @ LakmalPhysics .. And Sri Lanka don't deserve to be No. 3 either. You guys have never won a test match against Australia let alone series. Btw, why is Sri Lankan team scared of playing in Aus, Eng, and SA ? England and Australia are better than Lanka......... No matter how much I try to keep myself away from this fight but some of these Sri Lankan fans always try their best to provoke us.

  • Ryan on November 12, 2010, 23:10 GMT

    Guptill is a great talent. His greatest enemy is himself. @LakmalPhysics The reason South Africa isn't No.1 at the moment is because they have failed to find a quality spinner amongst the ranks. Pitches are flatter these days so you can't do what West Indies did in the 80s and play 4-5 seamers with no spinner. If RSA can find a quality spinner, surely they will be no.1.

  • Allan on November 12, 2010, 22:43 GMT

    I'm posting this here since there wasn't any way to post a comment with the other article: "India's recurring no-ball troubles". While the no-ball problems are not something to ignore, the REAL problem with India is the field placings and the failure to take-up positions CLOSER to the wicket. Several times we've seen over the last 3-4 matches catches falling short! Dhoni and Kirsten may give slick interviews, but when it comes to learning and quickly adjusting they seem clueless and stubborn. Even assuming that the positions were correct, do they really think it's easier/better to take a catch near one's toes with the ball dying on you? Or is it better to have the catch reach you slightly faster but at a more catchable height? Also, moving closer narrows the angles. When will they realize that fielders can adjust to the faster reaction times? In fact they can be TRAINED to do so. However you cannot train for an impossible catch at your toes. PLEASE WAKE UP before it's too late!!

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