Canny Santner engineers India's crash

Canny Santner engineers India's crash

A confidence-booster: Kiwi

Canny Santner engineers India's crash

A Mechanical engineering student and a golfer with a handicap of two, Mitchell Santner was living out a dream on the cricket field here on Tuesday.

The New Zealand left-arm spinner bamboozled the Indian batsmen with figures of 4/11 in his four miserly overs to play a major role in visitors’ upset win over MS Dhoni’s men.

Having picked up the man of the match honour for his all-round show (he also scored 18 off 17 in New Zealand’s 126/7), the bespectacled player perhaps faced the biggest media contingent of his fledgling career in the post-match press-do.

The 24-year-old, who took to spin bowling as late as 15 after he realised his dream of becoming a pacer was going nowhere, may never have been prouder of his switch than on Tuesday night here, even though he couldn’t get his dream wicket of Virat Kohli.

“He's obviously a world class batsman but any Indian wicket is a good wicket over here and I am just happy I got four of them tonight,” he said.

While the performance would have done a world of good to his confidence, Santner felt beating India would lift New Zealand’s confidence as well. “Every time you beat India in India it is a bit of a confidence booster and there are a lot of positives to take away from this game. But there are also a couple of things that we need to work on before the next. We will just take it game by game and we will move on to the next,” he noted.

New Zealand stumped everyone with their bowling combination for the opening match. They left out two of their regular pacers – Trent Boult and Tim Southee – and packed side with three specialist spinners expecting the pitch to assist the slow bowlers. It was a big gamble but one which paid off.

“It's obviously up to the selectors but the pitch did look like it would spin and we decided to go in with an extra spinner,” said Santner when asked about the strategy of having three spinners.

“Looking at the wicket we knew there was a bit of spin there. And obviously there was the aggressive nature of Guppy (Martin Guptill) and Colin Munro to try and get us off to a flier. We knew we were in for a tough battle. We thought 140 was maybe a good score on that wicket but it definitely started spinning on a lot more in the later overs. And perhaps the first six was crucial as the ball was coming on to the bat a bit more. I mean if we had gotten off to a good start it would have been handy but then we were reasonably happy with 120. It's a nibbly score to chase and we just stuck to our plans from there,” he reasoned.