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Santner lauds Phillips-Latham partnership as game-changer

Last updated on 19 Oct 2023 | 05:17 AM
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Santner lauds Phillips-Latham partnership as game-changer

Mitchell Santner also opened up on the challenge of facing India in Dharamsala

At 110/4, New Zealand found themselves under a lot of pressure. Afghanistan’s spinners had already exerted a lot from the pitch by then, and the onus was on the captain, Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips, to take them to a respectable total. 

In circumstances like these, New Zealand put on their best display, and more often than not, it comes down to doing the simpler things right. At that point, the duo were insistent on building a partnership, running the ones and twos hard, putting pressure on the opposition. The two put on a 144-run partnership, and they were dropped a handful of times during the innings, with their partnership eventually taking the BlackCaps to 288 - a score that well above par at the venue. 

But Mitchell Santner, New Zealand’s bowling hero in the tournament, called the partnership massive and insisted that it was a game-changer. 

“We obviously started off pretty well, but there were moments in the game where we were battling a little bit. It was on a knife edge for a while, so it was nice to get to a score. I guess that partnership between Tom and GP was massive for us, and then it  - pressure with the new ball always helps. We know Afghanistan are a quality side and they showed that the other day,” Santner said in the post-match press conference. 

Afghanistan’s decision to field first was obviously influenced by the results at the venue, with teams chasing down totals for fun. But it didn’t quite pan out that way for Hashmatullah Shahidi and co, as they had to face a strong New Zealand pace unit under lights, something that made a huge difference. 

“Most grounds you go, you have to kind of adapt and be ready to do both at the toss. There's been kind of a common theme. You want to kind of chase in the lights. And then 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 said. 

Santner was ever-existent in the field, with his bowling perhaps being second-best to his fielding. The all-rounder pulled off the catch of the tournament when he ran all the way around to the square leg umpire and leapt around in thin air to pluck the ball mid-air. 

“Yeah, I didn't think I was going to get there at the start, but I guess lucky 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 was it was a quite a key time of the game and I think Lockie's kind of expression said it all I think it was more of a surprise I caught it versus a great catch. So, I might have to have a word,” Santner talked about his own catch. 

New Zealand’s next challenge - India - in Dharmsala is quite a big one. But the plans, according to Santner, wouldn’t change a lot, sticking to the BlackCaps mantra of doing the ‘simple things’ much more consistently than their opponents. 

“Yeah, we know they're going to obviously be a challenge at home. They look pretty tough to beat. So, we'll have to do our assessment in Dharamsala - see what the wicket's going to do. And obviously there has been a little pace and bounce, but whether that is the case when we play them, we’ll see,” Santner on facing India. 

New Zealand’s rapid start - four wins on the trot - has sort of put them in a good position, that even a loss at the hands of India wouldn’t hurt them, unlike the position other teams in the mid-table find themselves in. 

“So yeah, we've just got to kind of keep doing us, keep focused on the things we want to and how we want to play. And obviously it's nice to be in this position to lead into this game, but we obviously know it's such a long tournament and one loss isn't going to hurt you if you win the rest, - or you kind of look at that at the start.”

“So, we know they're playing some very good cricket. I think power play with the ball is going to be very important. The way Rohit's kind of getting them off to a flyer. And so, I think we have to similar stuff to what we're doing, chip away, build pressure, do our things, see what happens.”

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