Dharamsala, Oct 21: In the lead-up to the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, many talked about the new-ball fast-bowlers will be topping the wicket-takers charts. But as the tournament approaches its half-way stage, it's New Zealand’s left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner who’s topping the charts with 11 scalps.
With an economy rate of 4.40 and a five-wicket haul, apart from recently becoming second left-arm spinner from his country after Daniel Vettori to take 100 ODI scalps, Santner has been a vital cog in New Zealand’s wheel of winning the middle-overs phase for them as both an attacker and stemmer of run-flow.
Santner is not a huge turner of the ball, but his strengths lie in subtle changes to pace and having an incredible control over the deliveries to build pressure and force a false shot from the batters. Ahead of the clash against India at Dharamsala on Sunday, a repeat of Santner’s fantastic performance in the competition is what the Blackcaps are wishing for.
“He's been a massive part of our side for many years now. I think his experience in these conditions, he's obviously played in the IPL for many years, He's been with the Chennai side for a long time so I think we've seen how adaptable he is in these conditions. He can obviously turn the ball and he's obviously got a lot of bounce as well which makes him really threatening.”
“He's been fantastic for us so far this tournament and I'm sure hopefully tomorrow will be no different. And as I said he's performed really well and in a couple of games and I'm sure he'll be looking forward to trying to repeat that,” said stand-in New Zealand captain Tom Latham in the pre-match press conference.
What has also helped Santner for excelling in the tournament has been his experience of playing in Indian conditions and adapting to various situations in whatever appearances he’s managed to get in yellow of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) during the IPL.
When New Zealand recently defeated Afghanistan in Chepauk, Santner was cheered on with vociferous support from the crowd as he took 3-39, apart from taking a one-handed sensational catch at short mid-wicket to complete Hashmatullah Shahidi’s dismissal. Latham hoped that IPL experiences of Santner and other members help in tackling India at Dharamsala.
“Again his experience is second to none. Obviously, being with Chennai for a long time, we've obviously got other guys as well that have experienced the IPL for many years. So, leaning on that experience is really important. We haven't played a lot of cricket up here in Dharamshala. Guys haven't played a lot, so for us, trying to adapt to conditions as quick as possible is going to be really important,” he concluded. (IANS)