New Zealand captain Kane Williamson has lauded the "world-class" hitting of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, as the New Zealand record for fastest T20 international fifty fell twice in the same innings, at Eden Park. Guptill first reached fifty off 19 balls, beating his own New Zealand record by four deliveries.
Even that innings was slow in comparison to Munro's rampage, in which he made 50 from 14 deliveries - reaching the milestone with a six that also ended the match. Between them, the batsmen cleared Eden Park's small boundaries 12 times, and blasted seven fours. Williamson made an unbeaten 32 from 21 balls at the other end, largely content to turn over the strike. New Zealand gunned down Sri Lankas 142 for 8 inside 10 overs.
"I don't think I was in the batting highlights," Williamson said. "Honestly, it was incredible. I thought it was going to be bit of a scrap. They put up a total that could have been tricky, if they took early wickets. Not sure what these two had for breakfast, but it was unbelievable to watch. Guppy [Guptill] has been doing it all summer, and to see Munners [Munro] helping was pretty special. It was world-class hitting which we'll only encourage these boys to keep going."
Munro - whose fifty is the second fastest globally, behind only Yuvraj Singh's 12-ball effort against England in the 2007 World Cup - said it was pleasing to translate domestic T20 form into rapid international runs. He had been the top-scorer in New Zealand's domestic T20 tournament, in which he struck 366 runs at a strike rate of 175.96.
Having arrived at the crease with the score on 89 for 1 in the seventh over, Munro said he set his sights on closing out the game. "I just wanted try be there at the end," he said. "Role I've been given, especially when chasing these smaller targets, is: 'Don't leave it up to someone else'. On that surface, it might have been bit harder to start on. I just think it was on Kane and I to see it through to the end."
Munro said it had been particularly pleasing to play two contrasting innings in the series. He had begun more sedately in his 26-ball 36 in Mount Maunganui. In that innings, he had been only 16 from his first 14 balls, also batting with Williamson on that occasion.
"The innings I played at Mount Maunganui was a lot more mature than I've played in past where I probably would have thrown my wicket away, to be fair," he said. "I batted with Kane there and he said it was a slow wicket, and to take my time until the ball was in my zone. Then it was good to come here today, and go in with lot wickets in hand, just play with freedom and try to show I can generate a strike rate batting at no. 3."
This series was an audition of sorts for Munro, who will be hoping for a place in New Zealand's World T20 squad, to be named next month. Williamson suggested New Zealand were closer to nailing down their tournament personnel after the 2-0 victory.
"In T20 you do need to use your squad," Williamson said. "We're trying to pick the best 15 for the moment, and give every player freedom to go out and express themselves. You want to pick match-winners, and that's what we've tried to do."