Why Mitch Santner is New Zealand's best bowler in white-ball cricket

Adithya Sundar 18:54 03/11/2019
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Mitchell Santner.

Left-arm spin is becoming a must-have weapon in T20 cricket and one of the best exponents of it is Mitchell Santner, a name that seemingly evades the limelight often.

The Kiwi all-rounder has picked up three consecutive three-wicket hauls in T20Is in 2019, with his latest coming against England at Wellington on Sunday.  Earlier, he had picked up three for 23 against England at Christchurch in the series opener and in the final game of the series against Sri Lanka at Pallekele, he had picked up three for 12.

While modern day batsmen are accustomed to spinners bowling flat and quick, Santner is a breath of fresh air as he changes his bowling speeds constantly and isn’t one to shy away from tossing the ball up.

The 27-year-old is the second highest T20I wicket-taker among spinners in the top ten teams of the ICC rankings, with Rashid Khan leading the pack. Santner has managed to pick up 15 wickets in just nine games with an economy rate of 6.71.

His economy in ODI cricket reads a remarkable 4.87 and he has conceded the least number of boundaries among bowlers in the top five ODI teams since his debut.

Like most elite left-arm spinners, Santner too is capable with the bat and agile on the field. His strength with the ball in hand is his control of line and length and the ability to bowl to a set field.

In his brief IPL stint this year in which he played only four games, he managed a tidy 14 overs, conceding 94 runs for four wickets. On his IPL debut, he starred with the bat, smashing a last-ball six to win the game for his team Chennai Super Kings against Rajasthan Royals. In a game against eventual champions Mumbai Indians, he finished with figures of 2-13 against a line up of big-hitters.

Apart from his stock ball that spins away from the right-handed batsman and the arm ball, Santner has also developed a ‘wrong-un’. He flicks the ball with his middle finger, which makes it turn into a right-hander. It is akin to Ravichandran Ashwin’s carrom ball.

The all-rounder was out of action for nine months in 2018 due to a knee injury but his performances ever since his return have been exceptional.  Given his ability, Santner’s stock will always be on the rise and it’ll be no surprise if he makes it to the top of the all-rounders rankings before the start of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

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