Mild-mannered Mitch Santner rarely hogs the limelight in the New Zealand team but the all-rounder has made a big noise at the World Cup, taking a screamer of a catch against Afghanistan and a milestone 100th ODI wicket.
Santner’s haul of 3-39 helped the Black Caps thrash the Afghans by 149 runs and continue his side’s perfect start to the global showpiece.
On the way, he became the second New Zealand spinner to reach 100 wickets in the format, following in the footsteps of his idol, Daniel Vettori.
Santner has work to do to catch Vettori, who bowed out of a brilliant career with 305 ODI victims.
“Yeah, it’s obviously nice to get to that milestone,” the 31-year-old told reporters of the 100 club.
“I guess I wasn’t thinking about it too much leading into the game. It’s just (about) trying to perform my role and do a job out there just like every other game.
“I think I’m 200 odd wickets behind (Vettori), so it’s going to be a tough challenge to get there.”
With 11 wickets so far, including a five-wicket haul against the Netherlands, Santner tops the bowling at the World Cup ahead of paceman team mate Matt Henry, who grabbed his ninth against the Afghans.
More accustomed to toiling on New Zealand’s pace-friendly pitches, it is not often Santner gets to outshine the seamers.
“It’s obviously nice to come here and see the ball spin a little bit,” he said.
“You don’t really get those (pitches) in New Zealand … I think as a whole, we’ve been bowling in partnerships, that’s what we talk about.”
Afghanistan grassed a slew of catching chances at the MA Chidambaram stadium, the home ground of Santner’s IPL team Chennai Super Kings.
Santner did not let the 15,000-strong crowd down, though, when he ran back and dived for a stunning one-handed catch to remove Hashmatullah Shahidi for eight when the Afghanistan captain miscued a pull off a short Lockie Ferguson ball.
“Lucky for me I’ve got really long arms and was able to kind of pluck it out,” said Santner.
“I think Lockie’s expression said it all. It was more of a surprise I caught it.”
New Zealand’s next match is a blockbuster against hosts India on Sunday in Dharamsala, a rare Indian pitch offering bounce and movement for seamers.
“I think what we’ve done well through this tournament is being able to adapt to different conditions,” said Santner.
“Every pitch we’ve played on has been slightly different.” REUTERS