Santner saunters to success

Mitchell Santner.jpg

When Santner came to bat for New Zealand, they were in trouble. The third ball of the seventeenth over, Jadeja spun one across him and it was called a wide. By then Santner faced five balls  off Jadeja. He didn’t look convincing at all as the runs he got off Jadeja in the first four balls were all extras. After the wide in the seventeenth over, he looked at where the ball pitched, raised his head and smiled at no one in general.

At the same time, there was another script playing out. Jadeja bowled to a plan and while Corey Anderson was around, he kept attacking the leg stump. In the bargain, he conceded a few wides. That didn’t deter him or his captain. When he bowled a tossed up ball after the wide, Santner came charging down the track and attacked him. The very next ball, Jadeja took Santner’s wicket with a flatter and faster delivery. After taking the catch, Dhoni said something to Jadeja. It seemed as if Jadeja didn’t bowl to Santner the way Dhoni wanted him to.

Santner is a left arm spinner himself. Did he smile after the wide because he knew he would be a handful on this pitch when his turn to bowl came? Did he pick some cues from the way Dhoni wanted Jadeja to bowl on this pitch?

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Just before the game began, there was a discussion on how Kohli has improved his game since the tour to England in 2014. Laxman said that Kohli improved his off side game by getting behind the line of the ball rather than reaching for the ball.

They also discussed how Kohli would win the battle against Boult. When Wasim Akram was asked what he would’ve done if he were bowling to Kohli, he said that he would attack the stumps. Yes, in the bargain he might go for a few runs but if Kohli misses, the bowler stood a great chance of an LBW or uprooting the stumps.

When Anderson bowled the second over of the innings, he did the same thing. Kohli looked at ease while playing those sort of deliveries. It seemed as if he figured the pitch and the bowlers out. He had a plan to counter the plans of New Zealand. He looked to get as close as possible to the ball while defending or attacking. He scored 16 runs of the 23 runs he scored on the leg side.

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At the toss, after winning it, Williamson informed that they left out Boult, Southee, McClenaghan and Henry Nicholls. He decided to pack the team with spinners. The XI drew a chuckle from the discerning. After struggling with the bat, New Zealand seemed to have a total to take the game to the 17th or the 18th over.

Suresh Raina, one of the unexpected bowling and fielding stars of the innings, was interviewed at the innings break. He seemed happy with his and the team’s effort. His parting words were, ‘If I get the chance to bat, I would definitely win it for India.’

When Shikar Dhawan was caught plumb in front, it didn’t create a flutter because he was out to a bad shot than a good ball.

Santner set the cat amongst the pigeons when he beat Rohit with turn and had him stumped. He took a second wicket in the over when he got Suresh Raina lobbing a catch to short midwicket with hard hands. Now that smile after wide had an added meaning. Right from his debut, Santner seemed a confident man. Yes, he has dropped a few catches and has had more than his share of misfields, but he seems a confident man. He is a calming influence on this team.

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The selection of Ish Sodhi was met with a hint of sarcasm in the social media. It kept growing as he wasn’t introduced till the ninth over. When he did come to bowl, he immediately rewarded his captain’s faith in him with a big wicket -Virat Kohli. He mixed his leg break and googly well. He troubled Pandya, Jadeja and Ashwin. Dhoni played him well and was clever enough to take singles and get to the other end.

Nathan McCullum, the other spinner, took two wickets. He manned the long on fence and saved crucial runs for his team. The catch that he took to dismiss Dhoni at long on was special. He didn’t even get to complete his quota of overs. Like the commentators predicted, the game was over by the 19th over. New Zealand won.

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Both the teams bowled 56 dot balls. The last three balls of the New Zealand innings fetched them 12 runs. The maximum India scored off an over was 9 runs. New Zealand scored 10 or more runs in an over 5 times. That, in the end, was the difference.

 

Image courtesy – espncricinfo.com

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