Mitchell Santner is part of the Chennai Super Kings set-up in the Indian Premier League and has worked with franchise’s skipper MS Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming for a while now. The spin-bowling all-rounder, who is set to lead New Zealand in the three-match T20I series against India in the absence of Kane Williamson and Tim Southee, feels staying cool is his biggest strength as a leader.
"Yeah, I guess that (being cool) is my nature, and it has been like that for a little while now. But there's also nerves and it's very exciting to captain another series in India - it doesn't get much better than that. So, definitely looking forward to it," said Santner, who has previously led New Zealand in 10 T20Is, prior to the first T20I in Ranchi on Friday (January 27).
"If you look at both of them (MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming), they're very calm and very level-headed, which I like. So, I feel like I'm similar to them in that respect and working alongside MS has been a pretty cool experience for a few years now. I guess it's nice to be back at his home ground (in Ranchi) as well. And Flem, he's the same, very level-headed and keeps it very relaxed and that's what we try to do in this (New Zealand) set-up as well."
Santner has been part of the IPL for a while now and has also featured in other T20 leagues across the globe. The 30-year-old wants to use all those experiences and help New Zealand get the better of India in the T20I series, especially after having been whitewashed in the ODI series.
"Every time you come up and play on different surfaces and different conditions, it always helps. You know playing in the IPL is no different. We play at a lot of different grounds, a lot of different venues, and a lot of different surfaces. So getting a base understanding of each ground helps. Then obviously taking that experience into the game and see what works and what doesn't."
The 50-over World Cup is also scheduled to be played in India later this year and Santner believes these three T20Is could help them prepare better for the showpiece event. "Every time you play for your country is a great honour," Santner said.
"So, you want to put out the best that you can and I guess the way the way ODI cricket is going at the moment with high scores, you know it's not too different to T20. So banking the experiences in T20 cricket this year will be similar to what we got in the one-day series, where we saw some high scores and good hitting. I guess trying to bank those experiences from that series…yes, we obviously lost 3-0, but we showed glimpses in games that we want to take forward in this series."