Guptill shines brightest in Black Caps draw

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 07:15 31/12/2012
Martin Guptill.
Reuters
IN FORM: Martin Guptill warmed up for New Zealand's test against South Africa with an unbeaten 68 in a drawn three-day tour match.

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Martin Guptill continued to show he's New Zealand's leading batsman heading into Wednesday's test with South Africa as he made the most of a mixed warm-up match.

The three-day fixture against a South African Invitation XI in Paarl ended in a tame draw early today (NZ time).

The worrying aspect for New Zealand was their inability to dismiss a side made up of mostly amateur and under-19 players who declared their first innings closed at 359-7 in reply to New Zealand's 311-6.

New Zealand got through to 117-2 when the match was called off at the tea interval.

Opening batsman Guptill was unbeaten on 68, spending two hours at the crease, hitting 10 fours and a six in another confident display. He is clearly the form batsman heading into the test opener in Cape Town.

Brendon McCullum, back opening after Peter Fulton was invalided out of the tour with a knee problem, scored 28 before he edged spinner Siya Simetu to first slip.

Dean Brownlie, who did not bat in the first innings due to a stomach bug, was trapped in front by seamer Petrus Jeftha for six, meaning he has absolutely no form to justify a place in the test lineup.

Daniel Flynn was unbeaten on 14 at stumps.

Guptill was talking up the effort at Boland Park where he was clearly the major benefactor in a patchy team effort on a low and slow wicket.

"The main thing for us was to get the bowling loads under the belt and for the batsmen to face 50-100 balls," Guptill said.

"It was good to get time on our feet as we prepare to take on South Africa."

There will need to be some adjustments in the nets in Cape Town.

"We know it's going to be a bouncy wicket in Newlands so we have to prepare for that over the next couple of days," Guptill said.

That wicket might suit the New Zealand bowling attack better because they were alarmingly impotent in Paarl.

Resuming at 274-6, the South African Invitation batsmen were hardly troubled today.

They easily had the better of the morning session, putting on 85 for the loss of just one wicket, with Chris Martin inducing a false stroke from Shaun Liebisch who was caught at point for four.

The New Zealand attack toiled hard on a lifeless pitch with eight bowlers getting through 119 overs across four sessions.

The concern will be whether they have the firepower to collect 20 Proteas wickets in the tests, considering the firepower of the Proteas batting lineup.

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Rookie Bruce Martin may have done enough to convince the selectors he is the best spinner for the job, collecting 2-82 off 19 overs with his left-armers, compared to the offspin efforts of the more experienced Jeetan Patel, who went wicket-less from 24 overs at a cost of 54 runs.

South Africa have not lost a test in Cape Town since 2006 and many of their squad call the picturesque Newlands venue their favourite because of the large support base there.

As of this morning, there were only 3000 tickets are still available for the first day of the test, despite the low expectations on the Black Caps to provide a contest against the world's No 1 ranked team.

New Zealand 311-6 dec (McCullum 65, Ackermann 3-46) and 117- 2 (Guptill 68*) drew with South African Invitational XI 359-7 dec (Kleinveldt 78, C Martin 2-39, B Martin 2-82)

- Stuff

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