McCullum hails New Zealand turnaround
Brendon McCullum has hailed New Zealand's turnaround after they beat South Africa off the last ball of the match in East London to square the series 1-1 and set up a finale for Boxing Day. New Zealand had been shot out for 86 in the opening game but bounced back, thanks to a century from Martin Guptill, who struck the last ball for four to reach a hundred and seal New Zealand's victory in their chase.
"It is great that the team turned around in 48 hours and a great knock by Martin after being sick a couple of days back," McCullum said. Our bowlers did well to stop South Africa's batting line up, but no one expected Martin to play that innings after being sick."
Guptill finished on 101 not out, off 69 balls, including nine fours and six sixes. He was part of two half-century stands, one with fellow opener Rob Nicol and then McCullum. "That's the mindset I took in today, I just wanted to get in and have a feel for the wicket," Guptill said. "With the batting we've got down the order, we had to build a platform early and with wickets in hand, we could attack from anywhere."
Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso, on T20 debut, was targeted by New Zealand's batsmen; he conceded 42 in four overs. "It's the first time I've actually swept the ball in international cricket, never really played spin that well," Guptill said. "We wanted to put a bit of pressure on him, it's his first game, and make him show his skills."
"One guy played a sublime knock, the guys around him played some smart cricket as well. Nicol's hand today was good," McCullum said. "We want to play an aggressive brand of cricket, but the other day highlighted the areas we need to fine-tune a little bit."
Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, rued the catches that went down in New Zealand's chase but was all praise for Guptill. "We scored enough with the bat. But it was an unbelievable hundred by Guptill. For me it is about learning, and today it was a steep learning curve. We didn't play a bad game, we were just outplayed by a great innings."