Chennai home comforts are beneficial. Mitch Santner established a World Cup standard.

Chennai home comforts are beneficial. Mitch Santner established a World Cup standard.

Mitchell Santner has been an early standout in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
And against Afghanistan on Wednesday, the New Zealand spinner had the added advantage of playing at the home ground of his Indian Premier League franchise, Chennai Super Kings.

Santner helped New Zealand thrash Afghanistan’s middle and lower order in front of his CSK fans, finishing with figures of 3/39 in his team’s 149-run win.

“I guess when we turn up here for IPL, we’ve played on wickets that kind of look similar to that,” Santner said, referring to his previous experience with conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

“Today, it looked like it swung a little bit and actually spun a little bit more under lights, which kind of helped that we lost the toss and batted first.”

Santner’s strong start to the tournament has propelled him to the top of the wicket-taking charts across all teams, with 11 wickets in New Zealand’s four matches so far.

And, with his first wicket in Chennai on Wednesday, he became only the second Black Caps spinner to reach 100 One Day International dismissals, trailing only fellow spinner Daniel Vettori.

“It’s obviously nice to get to that milestone,” said the left-arm spinner.

“I guess I wasn’t thinking about it too much leading up to the game; it’s just about trying to do my job and perform my role out there like any other game.”

“I think I’m 200 wickets behind him, so it’ll be a tough challenge to catch him.”

Santner’s excellent start on Indian pitches has seen him not only top the overall wicket-taking charts, but also nearly double the tally of the next highest spinner on that list, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan.

However, the 31-year-old believes the key to his success has been benefiting from the pressure created by his team’s opening bowlers.

“It’s obviously nice to come here and see the ball spin a little bit, you don’t really get those (wickets) in New Zealand,” he said.

“I think we’ve been bowling in partnerships as a group, that’s what we talk about.” The guys up front today, Boult and Matt Henry, did an excellent job of increasing the run rate, which makes them want to play bigger shots in the middle (overs).


“I think we’ve been bowling pretty well as a partnership, as a unit, and I was fortunate to chip in today for a few.” But I think the way the seam has set that up has been huge for us.”

“I guess the key in that middle phase is to try to take wickets.” It can be difficult at times when teams use that phase to set up a platform and then have wickets in hand to attack the last 10-15 overs,” Santner added.

“I guess it’s nice for me when he (Ferguson) bowls 150 (km/h) out the other end, because they might try to take me on a little more and not face that.” To be fair, if I were batting, I’d do the same.

“On a day when he may be going for runs, it may be more my job to kind of hold it.” Then, depending on the surfaces, flipping and adapting. So it obviously got off to a good start today. Later on, it started to spin a little bit, which was nice.”

Santner was impressive not only with the ball, but also with his outstanding catch, which helped remove the opposition’s skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi.

“I didn’t think I’d get there at first, but luckily for me, I’ve got very long arms and was able to kind of pluck it out.” So yeah, I was obviously happy it stuck, and it came at a crucial time in the game,” Santner explained.

“I think Lockie’s expression said it all – I think it was more of a surprise than a great catch.” So I might have to say something!”

On Sunday, Santner and his unbeaten New Zealand team will face tournament hosts India in Dharamsala.



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