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CWC agony and ecstasy for NZ’s Guptill

By AAP Newswire

When the team sheets come out for the Cricket World Cup final, New Zealand's will be topped, as always, by Martin Guptill.

Maybe only his teammates will expect much from him on Sunday at Lord's. Most will wonder how long it will take for England to get him out.

The top gun of the 2015 World Cup has been a mere pop gun four years later. From top run-scorer in 2015 to just fifth best on his team, he's enduring a horror sequence of outs.

And yet, when he's not batting he's turned out to be one of the stars of the World Cup, as a fielder.

The change in starring roles surprises given Guptill came to the World Cup fresh off consecutive centuries.

He'd averaged 50.01 since the last World Cup. He was the explosive opener who softens up the ball and the opposition attack for Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to pile on the misery in the middle overs.

Only, Guptill's string of batting failures has burdened Williamson, who has risen to the occasion, while Taylor has been hit and miss.

"Even in the nets I've found I've been a bit late on the ball," Guptill confessed.

"People can say they're frustrated with me but no one is more frustrated than what I am."

The World Cup started great for Guptill through an unbeaten 73 in a winning chase of 137 against Sri Lanka.

However, he was fortunate that before he scored, the second ball he faced was edged safely in front of second slip.

From that half-century, he's gone downhill, fast.

His next best score was 35 against South Africa, a promising knock ended when he slipped and became the 10th batsman in World Cup history to be out hit wicket.

When he was surprised by an in-swinger from Afghanistan's Aftab Alam, Guptill became only the second New Zealand opener to be out first ball in a World Cup match.

Incredibly, Guptill recorded another the golden duck two games later against the West Indies, the team he humiliated in the 2015 quarterfinals with 237no, the highest score in World Cup history.

He averaged 68 in 2015, luxuriating in home conditions to lead New Zealand to their first World Cup final.

This time, on soft, tacky English pitches he's averaging 20.87. He's in his worst scoring rut in ODIs in nine years.

And yet, his sublime fielding has still helped New Zealand make a second straight final.

Against Australia, Guptill showed amazing instinct to get his over-balanced left mitt high to pouch a full-blooded pull by Steve Smith.

Video analysis showed Guptill had 0.6 seconds to react.

Guptill also clinched New Zealand's semifinal upset of India when his direct hit stranded MS Dhoni in the 49th over.

"He's probably the only man on the pitch that could create that run out," Williamson said.

"Contributions can come in so many different ways and we've seen on the fielding charts he's been right up there."