NZ T20WC – Martin Guptill hopes to draw confidence from 2016 performance to turn form around

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The opener, who was New Zealand’s top run-scorer in the last edition of the tournament, feeling ‘not too bad’ at the moment

New Zealand opening batter Martin Guptill has had a rough time in the UAE, managing only 126 runs in nine T20 innings at an average of 14 and strike rate of 104.13. However, he hopes to draw confidence from the last T20 World Cup in India and turn around his form in the UAE at this World Cup. Guptill was New Zealand’s top-scorer in the 2016 T20 World Cup, making 140 runs in four innings at an average of 35 and strike rate of 157.30 in the side’s run to the semi-finals.

“Obviously I’d have liked to have gone better [in the UAE], but you know that’s all in the past now,” Guptill said. “In the last World Cup, I think I was our top run-scorer in the T20 World Cup. I can draw some on that experience and that confidence that I’ve been able to do that before. So, I’m just looking forward to going out and doing my thing and just making sure I’m as positive as I can be at the top of the order.

Guptill has tuned up for the tournament with 30 off 20 balls against Australia and 41 off 20 balls against England in the warm-ups at the Tolerance Oval.

“I feel not too bad to be honest,” Guptill said. “Nice to spend a little bit of time in the middle although I faced only 20 balls in each of the three games (including the unofficial warm-up against Netherlands). So, it will be nice to push on through that, but at the end of the day my role is to get the team off to a good start and I feel I did it in those three games.”

In New Zealand’s warm-up against Netherlands, Guptill captained the side after regular captain Kane Williamson was rested for that fixture because of a niggly hamstring. Guptill said he relished leading the side and being a senior figure in the set-up.

“I feel like I’ve been a senior figure in the side for a while now,” he said. “I’ve played over 300-odd games for New Zealand, so there’s a few miles in the legs there. But, no, it is enjoyable. I did enjoy captaining the other day – it was a little bit different. I haven’t done it for a few years since I last did at the CPL (for Guyana Amazon Warriors in 2017). So, now to put the armband back on and just have a crack at it, albeit in a warm-up game, that was enjoyable.”

“There are a couple of teams there we haven’t played before and we haven’t played Scotland in a long time. So, it’s going to be a tough pool, but also a great challenge for us as well.”

Martin Guptill

Win the powerplay (as the batting side) and win the game has been the recent trend in Sharjah after the pitches were relaid ahead of the second leg of IPL 2021. Guptill cautioned New Zealand against going too hard or too slow during the field restrictions as they prepare for their tournament opener against Pakistan in Sharjah.

“Our [openers’] role is to go out there and get the team off to a good start,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can throughout the tournament and, obviously, trends from Sharjah for our first game haven’t been that high-scoring. We have to adapt our game to still be positive, but still look to score some runs off the powerplay.”

Guptill was wary of facing Namibia and Scotland who have made it to the tournament proper. While New Zealand had come up against Scotland in 2009 – Guptill was part of that team too in the 2009 T20 World Cup – they have never faced Namibia and Afghanistan in T20Is.

“Yes, it’s not going to be easy,” Guptill said. “There are a couple of teams there we haven’t played before and we haven’t played Scotland in a long time. So, we’ve got to sit down a bit at meetings and go through footage and watch those teams. Obviously, Afghanistan have got some match-winners in their line-up as well. So, it’s going to be a tough pool, but also a great challenge for us as well. You know we’re really looking forward to get stuck in and getting into the tournament.”

Guptill also said that New Zealand haven’t let the bubble life get to them by finding various ways to keep themselves engaged, in the lead-up to the World Cup.

‘I can tell you we’ve got some pretty heated table tennis going on and I’m a way down the board, but I can still hear it,” Guptill said. “It can go up to sort of midnight-1am at certain times, but we’re obviously exposed to foosball tables and dartboards that have turned up in the last couple of days as well. The boys are keeping their minds fresh and getting amongst each other and there’s some coffee drinks going around as well.

“So, we’re keeping fresh, not thinking about cricket too much. But now that cricket is on, the boys are getting stuck in and watching that as well. I had about five-six guys in my room yesterday (Saturday) for about half an hour or so watching the Australia-South Africa game. So, [it’s] nice to have a few guys around so we’re not sitting by ourselves.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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