For now, Guptill is looking to polish his skills against Sunrisers teammate Rashid Khan from Afghanistan. New Zealand will play their third World Cup game against Afghanistan on June 8 at Taunton and Guptill wants to be prepared for the same.
“I haven’t played Rashid yet but he is an amazing bowler. It’s very hard to face him because he bowls so quick. I am looking forward to facing him in the nets because we play Afghanistan in the third game in the World Cup,” Guptill told CricketNext from Hyderabad, ahead of their second game in IPL-12 against the Rajasthan Royals.
“I try to get into the nets against him and make some plans for him. India is great place to learn how to play spin and figuring out a few plans,” he added.
The World Cup is one tournament where Guptill shines, the high point coming in the 2015 edition when he hammered a career-best 237 not out against West Indies in the quarterfinals. In India, the focus is currently on workload management to stay fit ahead of the 50-over quadrennial tournament.
“I have had my fair share of injuries in the last couple of years. I hope I can stay injury-free in the lead up to the World Cup. We are all professional athletes, the amount of games that we play, the travel, it can take a toll on the body. Injuries can happen to anyone and at anytime,” 32-year-old Auckland-born opener said.
Sunrisers is Guptill’s third team in the IPL after previous stints with Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab. This time around he has the familiarity of playing under his Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson.
“It’s nice to have a familiar face in the team. We have played a lot of our cricket together, especially T20 cricket. We have a good understanding of how each other plays. Hopefully we can get an opportunity to bat here together and put up some good performances,” Guptill, who averages 43.51 in 169 ODIs for NZ, said.
With the IPL taking place in the World Cup year, Guptill can look forward to some openings in the second half of the season with players from Australia and England expected to return home early on national duty calls.
“I try not to get too far ahead. We have a lot of net session before the second half of IPL. Cricket’s a funny game, you never know that someone might get injured and you have to take up that opportunity. I just want to take each net session as it comes,” Guptill, who scored his 15th and 16th ODI century against Bangladesh before injuring his back, said.
One thing that Guptill wants to capitalize on at the IPL is utilizing expert coaches like teams like Sunrisers have to offer. The Hyderabad franchise have former players like VVS Laxman and Muttiah Muralitharan to guide the team.
“Sometimes it’s good to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at your game. Maybe they can pick up some things that you miss. VVS Laxman was such a wonderfully talented batsman and it’s nice to have guys like him around to learn things from him. It is quite an exciting prospect,” he said.
Finally, although Guptill is battling for the opening batsmen’s slot in the Sunrisers with David Warner, he was pleased by the Australian’s comeback to the IPL. Warner had to sit out the 2017 edition after the BCCI banned him from the T20 tournament for his involvement in the ‘Sandpaper’ ball-tampering incident last year.
“Warner played extremely well in the first match. He’s a world-class player and showed us that no matter how long he is away from the game, if you are in good head space you can do a lot of damage in the middle. It could have been a match-winning knock before it was taken away by someone else,” Guptill said about Warner.
First Published: March 29, 2019, 3:35 PM IST