Blackcaps v Australia: Under-pressure Martin Guptill backed for return to vintage form in T20 series

The injury cloud over Martin Guptil's availability for Monday's first T20 against Australia appears to be gone.

The veteran Blackcaps white-ball opener has received the all-clear and will take his place in the opening match of the five-game series at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval.

And the 34-year-old has plenty to play for, with hot prospect Finn Allen banging the selection door down, after a sensational Super Smash campaign for Wellington.

Guptil has struggled for runs this season, failing to pass 50 against the West Indies or Pakistan, while his returns for Auckland were meek.

But his coach and teammates have no doubt 'Guppy' is close to his best and are backing the right-hander to return to form.

"If you watched him bat in the nets today, you wouldn't know there are any issues at all - he looked like a million dollars," says coach Gary Stead.

But Guptill must perform at the crease and without a half-century in T20 cricket since 2019, he needs results, with a World Cup just months away.

"Gups is a class player and has been a class player for a long time,” says Stead. “Form and what people do while in form can change perceptions so quickly.

"But we have a number of people who are capable of playing international cricket and that's exciting for us"

Long-time international teammate Trent Boult expects Guptill will end any selection debate against Australia, predicting a destructive showing from the Aucklander.

"This is a guy we're talking about who's been playing international cricket for 12 or so years," Boult says. "We know what he can do with the bat in hand in the white-ball format."

Australia pose a serious challenge, despite missing several of their test stars. 

David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are all playing domestic cricket in Australia, but with a slew of hungry Big Bash youngsters looking to stake a claim for the World Cup, Stead expects a severe litmus test for his side.

"They've got class players right throughout, so it's a very good chance to find out where we are as a T20 unit."

Meanwhile, the Australians - who will be released from managed isolation on Sunday - expect a challenge from the Blackcaps’ latest Indian Premier League millionaire.

Matthew Wade has been impressed by what he's seen of Kyle Jamieson from afar and on a hard Hagley Oval wicket, the towering quick could prove a real handful for the Aussies. 

"I would suggest that his bounce is going to be the big thing and arguably his biggest strength, so it's going to take a bit of getting used to," Wade says.

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