Cricket: Martin Guptill has his day in the sun as Auckland Aces honour Blackcaps great with Super Smash win over Wellington Firebirds

On a day where Auckland Cricket honoured Blackcaps great Martin Guptill, the man himself lived up to the billing, leading from the front to earn a 53-run Super Smash victory over Wellington Firebirds. 

Taking to the field at the temporarily renamed Martin Guptill Oval for 'Thank You Gup Day', the Auckland opener carried his bat to score an unbeaten 85 runs from 52 balls, with five boundaries and six sixes.

And despite their status as Super Smash leaders - a title still intact despite defeat - no Firebirds batter could match Guptill's heroics, in an innings that limped to the end on a day that went Auckland's way from the first over until the last.

Martin Guptill against Wellington.
Martin Guptill against Wellington. Photo credit: Photosport

Ben Lister led Auckland with the ball, taking 4/26 and an acrobatic catch for his afternoon's work to bowl the Firebirds out in the 19th over, and seal Auckland's win. 

As the Blackcaps returned to the Super Smash after their drawn Twenty20 International series against Bangladesh, fans were treated to Finn Allen, Mark Chapman and Lockie Ferguson making their first Auckland Super Smash appearances of the season.

Wellington meanwhile were able to call on Adam Milne and Ben Sears, as well as Dutch all-rounder Logan van Beek.

After being asked to bat first, Guptill could only watch as Allen made Wellington regret their decision, raising a half-century in just 23 balls against an attack containing international teammates Adam Milne (0/46) and Ben Sears (2/32).

All up, Allen scored 44 of his 50 runs in boundaries and dominated the opening stand of 73 with Guptill, before he was out caught behind by Callum McLachlan off the bowling of Peter Younghusband.   

But after taking a backseat and needing 40 balls to reach his own 50, Guptill closed out the innings in style, hitting four sixes at the death to carry his bat as Auckland posted 192/6. 

In response, Wellington's batting order never looked like threatening their target, as the Firebirds were restricted to 139 all out in reply. 

No batter could manage more than Muhammad Abbas' 32 – coming off 38 balls as wickets fell around him.

Auckland's attack shared the wickets evenly, as Danru Ferns (3/26) and Louis Delport (3/27) joined Lister as the trio shared all 10 wickets between them.

The only slight positive for the Firebirds came in the shape of Michael Bracewell, who made his return from an Achilles injury after a six-and-a-half-month layoff, taking 1/12 from two overs with the ball, and scoring 10 from six balls with the bat. 

Victory temporarily moves Auckland up into second on the Super Smash ladder with 12 points from their first five games of the season. 

However, Canterbury Kings do have the chance to move into the outright lead – albeit unlikely – if they can defeat Central Stags by a large enough margin on Friday.

Auckland Aces 192/6 (Guptill 85 not out, Allen 50; Sears 2/32)

Wellington Firebirds 139 all out (Abbas 32; Lister 4/26, Ferns 3/26, Delport 3/27)