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Guptill blasts Auckland home

Auckland opener Martin Guptill returned to domestic cricket in style and all-but blasted Wellington out of the Twenty20 competition in Wellington on Wednesday night.

Guptill, who has been impressive in his first matches for New Zealand this summer, whacked 43 off 21 balls to set Auckland on the way to a five-wicket win.

The hosts compiled 145 for nine and Auckland reached their target with four balls to spare.

It mirrored a low-scoring clash between the sides in Auckland on Sunday when Wellington succumbed with just one ball remaining.

Wellington now have virtually no chance of qualifying for the March 1 final with two rounds remaining.

They are two wins behind co-leaders Otago and Auckland, who both have a vastly superior net run-rate.

Guptill's knock, of which 38 came via boundaries, ensured the visitors' required run-rate was always in hand and Rob Nicol and Steven Croft saw them home with an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 46 off 36 balls.

Earlier, former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming found some form at last with the bat, crafting 57 off 35 balls at the top of the innings.

But his teammates failed to support him, with 22 from Matthew Bell the next-best offering.

Nicol snared four for 41 and Auckland newcomer Greg Morgan bagged an impressive three for 16 off four overs.

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