Martin Guptill believes Worcestershire Rapids are capable of making a strong defence of their Vitality Blast title this summer

The New Zealand batsman smashed 86 not out off just 31 balls in the win over Durham yesterday and, with Riki Wessels (74), plundered 148 from 8.5 overs in a nine wicket win.

Victory lifted the Rapids, for whom Guptill made seven Blast appearances last summer, into second spot in the North Group.

It was another impressive team performance similar to the one produced in the away win over Notts Outlaws.

Guptill said: “Can the team make a strong title defence? Absolutely. We’ve got a great squad, very strong, and we bat a long way down the order.

“We’ve got some very talented bowlers in the line-up as well.

“There are also guys sitting in the wings itching to have a go as well that can do the job if they get the chance.”

Regarding the partnership with Wessels and performance against Durham, Guptill added: “I guess as a team it was a pretty good all-round performance. They got off to a good start, we managed to pull it back towards the end after it looked like we could be chasing 190 plus for a period.

“Our boys pulled it back pretty well with the ball and obviously a big partnership at the top of the order always helps.

“What was it like for myself and Riki? We were certainly enjoying it. When your partner is hitting big sixes and you are matching him, it is always good fun and we were just trying to get things done as quickly as possible.

“Was I seeing it like a football? People say that but I never find that I am. It’s always nice to get a few out of the middle but, the way Riki started the chase, it is all down to him and then I followed suit

“We wanted to get off to a good start. With chases like that, a good start is always needed.

“If you lose two early wickets, it is always an uphill battle, but the way Riki started striking the ball and the way I joined in, we were ahead of the game from the start.

“We didn’t play well enough at Old Trafford. We know that. We turned it around nicely against Durham.”