Top openers in T20: Guptill-Williamson ruling the roost

Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson walked out for the first time in a Twenty20 match against England in Chittagong during the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and since then (March 22, 2014) they have been on a run-scoring spree and enjoyed each other’s success.

New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson have piled up 821 runs in 16 innings at an average of 54.73.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

> Martin Guptill and > Kane Williamson walked out for the first time in a Twenty20 match against England in Chittagong during the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and since then (March 22, 2014) they have been on a run-scoring spree and enjoyed each other’s success. They have cut loose against all comers to become not only New Zealand’s best opening pair, but also the world’s by piling 821 runs together in 16 innings at 54.73.

Guptill has sent the ball flying with towering straight-field sixes and Williamson has carved the bowlers, bisecting gaps. Australia’s fearless David Warner and the controlled big-hitter Shane Watson joined forces long before the Black Caps pair and hence are on top of the list with 1108 runs at 34.63 in 32 innings.

The sluggish, slow, rough and the sometimes spiteful nature of pitches in the multi-nation tournament now nearing the end of the Super 10 stage may have encumbered them from throwing their wrists at almost every ball and even made them surrender as Guptill found out soon after bringing his back-swing down heavily on the first ball sent down by > R. Ashwin at Nagpur. But they have not been unsettled.

In fact in the next two matches the intrepid right-hander used his 1.88-metre tall frame and the bat to plunder 39 off 27 balls (2x4, 4x6) against Australia and then cut the Pakistan bowlers to size with a demoralising 48-ball 80 (10x4, 3x6).

Guptill did not play against Bangladesh at the Kotla on Saturday.

The 29-year-old from Auckland has found fame through the ODI and Twenty20 formats; he’s not been a misfit in Test match cricket though.



Last year he surpassed > Chris Gayle ’s record World Cup score of 215 against Zimbabwe with a brutal unbeaten 237 against the West Indies in a quarterfinal match at Wellington.

There is no doubt that Guptill is a top-bracket batsmen and it’s still a mystery as to why none of the eight IPL teams chose to bid for him at reserve price going at $50,000! He’s amassed 1,791 runs in 58 innings at a strike rate of 131.5 (166x4, 76x6) to be placed behind Brendon McCullum (2,140 in 70 innings, 199x4, 91x6) and > Tilakaratne Dilshan (1,848 in 76 innings, 218x4, 32x6). Gayle is of course far ahead on the sixes count with 98 hits.

Guptill’s partner Williamson is from the Bay of Plenty in the Maori-inhabited Tauranga. His mindset to deal with the cricket ball is just the same, but he’s more of a steadying influence with the strategic aim of keeping wickets for the slog overs. After the start in Chittagong two years ago against England, he has contributed 672 at 39.53, slightly higher than Guptill’s 597 at 37.31. Williamson’s boundary count stands at 112 fours and 11 sixes.

Guptill’s scores after the ICC World Cup Twenty20 in Bangladesh have been: 32, 6, 33, 42, 60, 58, 63, 2, 87*, 42, 6, 39 and 80 and the Black Caps have won nine of these 13 matches.

Top opening pairs: New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson (821 runs in 16 innings at 54.73); India’s Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (498 runs in 18 innings at 27.66); Zimbabwe’s Hamilton Mazakadza and Vusi Sibanda (389 runs in nine innings at 43.22); South Africa’s Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock (319 in nine innings at 35.44); West Indies’s Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith (317 in seven innings at 45.29); Bangladesh’s Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal (317 runs in 12 innings at 26.42).

*Stats as on March 26, post India’s match against Australia in Mohali.