'World-class' Guptill timely boost for New Zealand

Martin Guptill steers the ball behind point Getty Images

New Zealand's bruised top order will welcome back Martin Guptill for their must-win fourth ODI in Hamilton and are set to hand Luke Ronchi the wicketkeeping duties ahead of Tom Latham.

The coach Mike Hesson did not confirm whether Latham would retain a spot as a batsman, but the hints were that he could be dropped after a run of six single-figure scores in a row including three ducks. Dean Brownlie, who was Guptill's replacement, has retained his place in the squad which is just for the Hamilton match.

"We talked at the start of the series about giving both keepers an opportunity. Tom has had the first three, so Luke is likely to have an opportunity there," Hesson said. "We are delighted to have Martin back and that allows us to do that a lot easier."

Hesson indicated that a decision over Latham would not purely be taken with the thought of giving him a short break before the Test series even though he is a key plank of that top order.

"I don't think anything is more important than anything else, the ODI series is huge for us," he said in reference to whether the Tests were a priority. "Tom has struggled the last little while, he came off a great series in India, and has come home and hasn't quite reached those heights yet."

Guptill has recovered from his dual hamstring injuries and his is a timely return after New Zealand were skittled for 112 in Wellington. Hesson called the performance "out of the box" and said the team had to readjust quickly to stay in the series.

Guptill averages 42.52 from 141 ODIs and though he hasn't batted in the middle for almost a month, he has been able to net regularly during his recovery.

"He's been batting all the way through, it was more about strength in the hamstring when running at top speed," Hesson said. "Sure, you haven't played in the middle so it will be challenging but he's a world-class player and pleased to have him back."

A return for Ronchi will mean juggling elsewhere with him needing to fit into the middle order which could make Neil Broom vulnerable unless New Zealand ditch one of their allrounders.

The offspinner Jeetan Patel has also been added to the squad after the considerable assistance that was on offer in the opening game of the series. Kane Williamson expects a different surface this time, with better weather in the build-up but Patel, who played his first ODI in seven years against Bangladesh in Nelson on New Years Eve, provides a specialist bowler who can spin the ball away from the left handers.

However, it could be that Williamson is entrusted with a greater bowler role in the fourth ODI. "With Kane bowling, depending on conditions, he's very much a sixth option and Hamilton is probably those conditions," Hesson said. "Whether we go with the two allrounders, or slot Luke in a little higher we have options."

Hesson termed the challenge of winning back-to-back games against the world's No. 1 team "exciting, really exciting" as they look to maintain an unbeaten home record in ODI series which dates back eight bilateral contests to January 2015. The last side to beat them on their own patch was South Africa in late 2014.