Guptill stars in Kiwi victory

Martin Guptill's century steered New Zealand to victory over a brave Ireland side in a pre World Cup warm-up game in Nagpur. The Kiwis scored freely on their way to 311-6 from their 50 overs and managed to avoid an upset, stopping the Irish 32 runs short of their total mainly in thanks to their captain Daniel Vettori's four wickets in the middle of Ireland's innings.

Guptill's 130 the stand-out performance, the opener's innings coming from 134 balls. The opener shook of the loss of partner Brendon McCullum in the third over and pushed on with Jesse Ryder to put on 79. Ryder's typically aggressive innings came to an end two shy of his half-century. James Franklin (49) and Guptill's fourth wicket stand of 104 was the deciding factor for the Kiwis, Ross Taylor's 33 and Scott Styris' quick-fire 29 helping New Zealand finish on an intimidating total. The Cricket World Cup odds indicate the side will need to put in performances like this on the sub continent if they are to stand any chance of making an impact in the competition.

The Irish were always up against it but came close to pulling off a surprise win, openers William Porterfield and Paul Sterling putting on 93 for the first wicket. Sterling fell for 39 but skipper Porterfield pushed on to pass his half-century from 48 deliveries, before falling to Hamish Bennett for 72.

Ed Joyce in positive form with his 41 but Daniel Vettori's tore out the heart of the Irish middle order with four wickets, swinging the game back in his side's favour. The Kiwis ultimately showed their superior class to close the game out, taking the final three wickets for 39 runs to avoid a morale bashing defeat.

The performance will give the Irish heart heading into the 2011 Cricket World Cup as they look to repeat their heroics from 2007, when they reached the Super Eight stage, after a famous victory over Pakistan. If Porterfield's side can tighten up in the field and find more consistency from their bowlers then they may have a chance of achieving something in this year's tournament.

The Kiwis will need their batsmen to continue the sort of form they showed here in Nagpur then they could upset the form book and challenge in the latter stages of this competition although the bowlers will need to support Vettori and not leave the wicket taking solely to their skipper.