T20 Cricket World Cup: Blackcaps batsman Martin Guptill's historic innings almost undone by searing desert heat

Blackcaps master-blaster Martin Guptill admits he almost fell victim to the suffocating desert heat at Abu Dhabi, during his match-defining hand against Scotland at the Twenty20 World Cup.

With the Blackcaps teetering after the loss of three early wickets, the 35-year-old plundered 93 runs from just 56 balls - including seven sixes - in a trademark display of power strokeplay.

His 105-run fourth-wicket partnership with Glenn Phillips (33) helped ensure a competitive final total of 172/5, with the Scots ultimately falling 16 runs short.

A loss would have been fatal for the Blackcaps, who need to win all their remaining Group Two matches to advance to the semi-finals. They play Namibia on Friday, before taking on Afghanistan on Monday in a tie that could effectively be a quarter-final.

Guptill says he'd felt "pretty cooked" out in the middle, almost collapsing with exhaustion, as he clearly struggled through the latter part of his knock in temperatures threatening 40 degrees.

"It was warm," Guptill laughs. "It is challenging, especially when Glenn is trying to run two every ball. 

"When you get down to the end of an innings, you're trying to hit as many runs as you can, swinging hard and then trying to get back for twos as well."

Guptill lost almost 4.5 kg during his innings.

"It takes it out of you," he told TVNZ. "I had to come off halfway through the fielding innings with a bit of cramp. 

"It was tough today. I've certainly played in hotter, but in T20 cricket, when you're running nearly every ball and trying to hit boundaries, it takes it out of you a lot more than it does back home.

"We've got a day off, so I won't be doing much tomorrow."

Guptill launches one of his seven sixes against Scotland.
Guptill launches one of his seven sixes against Scotland. Photo credit: Photosport

The first six of Guptill's innings also saw him join Indian superstar Virat Kohli as the only batsmen to have surpassed the 3000 runs in international T20 cricket. He finished his knock on 3069 runs total, with Kohli currently leading the way on 3225.

"It's pretty cool, but it's not necessarily about the personal milestones or anything like that," Guptill notes. "It's about getting the wins for the team.

"Today was a good day for us and we go again in a couple days to hopefully do it again."

With previous scores of 17 and 20 at the tournament, Guptill - nursing a toe injury, after being struck on the foot in the win over India on Monday - is pleased to make a more meaningful contribution to the Blackcaps campaign.

"Scotland bowled very well up front and didn't allow us to get away quickly," he says. "To lose three wickets in the front six, it's always tough to come back from that, but I thought the way Glenn came out [was important]. 

"We've played a lot of cricket together, and it was nice to get a big partnership with him and set the team up for a match-winning total.

"It's never ideal losing three in the powerplay, but it was all about just creating one big partnership to get us to a competitive total. They made it really tough for us to get away to an absolute flier. 

"It was a bit of a - not quite - a rescue mission, but Glenn and I had to assess the situation, and put a partnership together."

Captain Kane Williamson has paid tribute to Guptill's crucial knock, while admitting his bowlers will need to improve on a "patchy" collective performance.

"He's a huge player for us - a real card player at the top of the order - and he's been hitting the ball beautifully," Williamson says. 

"We've been on a variety of surfaces, but it was great that he was able to make a huge contribution tonight - and really needed as well - because we were under pressure at the start of our innings.

"We certainly knew, coming into this tournament, that it doesn't matter who you face, there are matchwinners out there. We certainly saw that on both sides today, and it ebbed and flowed.

"We were a little bit patchy with the ball, but we'll move on from this one and look to the next one. It all goes pretty quickly for us in this last half.

"Credit to the way Scotland came out and played. They did put us under pressure, and certainly fired a number of shots and hit the ball out of the park beautifully.

"We were tested in a number of ways and, for us, it's about trying to learn from that and improve on that."

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