Is Mitchell Santner New Zealand's answer to Yuvraj Singh?
It would be an understatement to suggest that New Zealand’s confidence might have taken a beating after the Joe Root-Eoin Morgan batting display at Nottingham in game four of the ongoing series. Rather, they would be reeling as if punched in the chin by a Mike Tyson uppercut. The Kiwis performances with the ball thus far in the series have been abysmal when compared to their stellar show at the World Cup.
Should Brendon McCullum have wondered if there were any positives to take from game four, there was one patch of brilliance – that of Mitchell Santner’s batting. While most of the cheering crowd would probably remember the glorious stroke-play of England’s left-right combination in Root and Morgan, Mitchell Santner’s cameo was equally delightful to watch.
Coming in at the fall of Luke Ronchi’s wicket in the 44th over, the left-hander nervously pushed and nudged for the next two overs while Grant Elliott struck some meaty blows at the other end. Enter Adil Rashid - England’s new leg-spinning sensation. In no time, Santner mutated from what seemed like a typical tail-ender to a top-flight left-handed star batsman.
By the time Rashid had completed the 48th over, Santner had deposited four hits to the grandstands. In all, the left-hander from Hamilton scored a stunning 28 runs from the over to turn the tide in New Zealand’s favor – much to the bemused yet delighted and beaming Ross Taylor in the dressing room balcony.
And it just wasn’t all slogging as there seemed to be an adept batting method to it. With the ball turning into him, Santner was down on one knee and striking with head over the ball while finishing with a stylish follow through – a la Yuvraj Singh.
Every single big hit was picked up from middle and off and sent soaring to the same crowd section in similar fashion. And ball after ball, the look on Rashid’s face was similar to that of Stuart Broad while he was at the receiving end of Yuvraj in the famous 6 sixes in an over episode at Kingsmead in 2007.
Drafted in to replace Daniel Vettori in the left-arm spin department, the 23-year-old hasn’t quite set the ball on fire in the four games of his debut series. With four wickets so far and two of those coming in his second game, it certainly has been baptism by fire for the youngster who is attempting to fill into the shoes of a country legend in Vettori.
That said, his batting prowess was on display for all to witness. Should the Kiwis persist with him, he could well be nurtured and fine-tuned into the next big left-arm spinning all-rounder in world cricket.