The BLACKCAPS rushed to complete a morale-boosting one-day cricket victory over India at Eden Park but a scintillating run chase still represented quality time in the middle for Martin Guptill.
Jesse Ryder may have been the man of the moment after his all round contribution -- and brief shouting match with Ishant Sharma -- but Guptill also drew plenty of admirers for the manner in which he contributed to an eight wicket win that prevented a 4-0 whitewash.
Guptill, who makes his test debut against India when the three-match series starts here at Seddon Park on Wednesday, strode to the crease after New Zealand lost Brendon McCullum for two in the third over, and he was on hand to apply the finishing touches on Saturday night via a six and four from the irritated Sharma.
His unbeaten 57 from 50 deliveries represented his third ODI half century in an 11-innings career that started with a sublime unbeaten 122 against the West Indies two months ago.
Guptill opened with Brendon McCullum on Eden Park that day after Ryder had been relegated to water boy for tardy behaviour.
The 22-year-old has subsequently batted at first or second drop against Australia and India but returns to his favoured opening position this week -- not that he is too fussed what position he fills.
Considered a limited overs specialist when drafted in at the expense of Jamie How for the latter stages of the West Indies series, Guptill's poise since has demanded he combine with fellow-Aucklander Tim McIntosh and form New Zealand's latest opening partnership.
While a sheer weight of domestic runs saw McIntosh blooded against the West Indies at the expense of Aaron Redmond in December, Guptill is the first to admit his first class production for Auckland has been far from prolific.
Guptill has fashioned a modest average of 28.67 from 19 first class matches, though his highest score of 148 was collected against Otago in December.
"I don't think my four-day record's much to go by," he admitted, before making another indisputable claim: "I'm seeing the ball and striking it clean."
Guptill experienced teething problems against the world champions but finished the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy stalemate with 45 in Adelaide and 64 not out before a cliffhanger in Brisbane was washed out.
He was straight into his work against the Indians, cracking 64 at Napier in game one and eventually tallied 147 runs for the series at 49.00.
A looming test debut might be cause for anxiety but the unflappable right hander was taking another promotion in his stride -- and his half century at the weekend helped sooth any nervousness.
"I'm feeling pretty confident, I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said after continuing a familiarisation process with the tourists' attack.
"I've faced all the bowlers, I know what they can do and how they do their thing."
McIntosh, who crafted a maiden test century in his second outing against the West Indies, has not had first hand experience against the Indians though Guptill would be in his ear when the 13-man test squad start continue their preparations today.
"It's going to be great opening with Tim. We've got a pretty good understanding from batting together."
India celebrated their 3-1 ODI series in Auckland yesterday and were due to arrive in Hamilton for an optional training session later today.