50 overs New Zealand 360 for 6 (Guptill 115, Nicholls 79, Little 2-84) vs Ireland
In the absence of Mark Adair, who made way for debutant Graham Hume, and offspinner Simi Singh, who was swapped out for legspin-bowling allrounder Gareth Delany, Ireland’s attack lacked any penetration.
After New Zealand opted to bat in bright sunshine, Guptill and Allen forged an explosive 78-run opening partnership. Guptill could have been dismissed on 6 had Andy McBrine clung onto a difficult chance at midwicket, but he could only finger-tip it away to the boundary after tumbling to his left. To add to Ireland’s hurt, Guptill walloped Craig Young for four fours in the seventh over and looked unstoppable for the most part of his innings.
His driving down the ground and through the covers was supreme, as is the case with most of his big knocks. Ireland’s seamers aided him by regularly pitching the ball in his driving arc. Guptill reached his fifty off 43 balls and then slowed down once the spinners McBrine and Delany found some grip with the old ball. He slowed down further in the nineties, needing 18 balls to move from 90 to triple figures.
Nicholls launched from the platform Allen and Guptill had set, regularly jumping across to off to freely access the leg side. As a result, 54 of his 79 runs came on the leg side. He shimmied out to his fifth ball, bowled by Curtis Campher, and gloriously shovel-pulled it into the media tent beyond square leg for six and then sent the next ball over midwicket for four. Andy Balbirnie then matched up McBrine’s offspin with the left-hander, but Nicholls took 24 off 16 balls from him.
Nicholls notched up his fifty off 38 balls and looked good for more, but Young cut his innings short with an offcutter into the pitch. Phillips and Michael Bracewell then bashed 45 together off a mere 23 balls to help take New Zealand past 350. Phillips was happy to stay leg-side of the ball and give it an almighty thump.