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Coming up against India first up was nerve-wracking for Santner

Left-arm spinner reflects on his career-best T20 performance and talks about the dream to play for New Zealand coming true

Mitchell Santner might be new at the top level, but the left-arm spinner has already made an impact on the world stage. In the recently concluded ICC World Twenty20 2016, Santner finished amongst the top three wicket-takers with ten scalps from five matches. He was also the only New Zealand player to make the ICC World T20 2016 team of the tournament.
“It’s a pretty special experience, my first T20 World Cup and first ICC event,” Santner told ICC Cricket 360° of his experience. “India is pretty friendly to spin bowlers, and playing in front of those crowds who are so loud, so fanatic, it’s a different experience than what we have back home. I was lucky enough to get a few wickets and help the side win a few matches, and we made it to the semifinals.”
In the opening match of the Super10 stage, New Zealand read the Nagpur pitch perfectly against India to let go of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, and play three spinners in Santner, Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum. Santner made full use of the viciously turning track to return career-best figures of 4 for 11. McCullum and Sodhi played the support role perfectly for a combined analysis of 11-0-44-9 as New Zealand defended 126 with lots in hand.

“Coming up against the home team (India) in the first game of the tournament was pretty nerve wrecking as it was my first World Cup,” admitted Santner. “But I tried to keep an open mind and kept it simple. Ish, Nathan and I got together and formed a bit of a plan to each batter. But we kept it simple, nothing changes too much, it’s all about your length and pace. We knew that some batsmen would try to us their feet more than others, and we tried to deny their scoring options in their favourite part of the ground.
“We were lucky enough to have a bit of a spinning wicket, so we just had to bowl in the right areas and let the wicket do what it did. To get nine wickets out of ten as a spinning group was pretty special.”
Just 24, Santner made his international debut in all three formats last year after a promising 2014-15 domestic season. Following his success in the World T20, Santner was recently added to the Worcestershire side for the NatWest T20 Blast.
“Growing up it was always a dream to play for New Zealand in all three formats,” said Santner. “Not to just play, but be a significant player for a few years. But you do have ups and downs in your career, just like anyone else. I didn’t make it to the domestic teams until the Under 19s. I worked hard and came back and played that one domestic season and then got a contract with the Black Caps. It’s sinking in a bit now, but I’m not focusing on that too much and just keep playing cricket.”

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