World T20: New Zealand keep flying

World T20: New Zealand keep flying
Mitchell Santner is airborne as he attempts to take a catch unsuccessfully during the World Twenty20 match against Australia.

Williamson's men hang on to edge out Australia in a cliffhanger

By James Jose

Published: Sat 19 Mar 2016, 9:56 PM

Well, well, well, nobody may have thought of this, did they? After peeling Indian oranges in Nagpur, New Zealand scaled the snow-capped peaks of the freezing Dharamsala by stealing the thunder from Down Under. The Black Caps feathered the storm that was India before swimming past their rivals across the Tasman Sea - Australia.
The Kiwis have taken wings, flown high and have perched themselves on top of Group 2 in the Super 10s. The perennial dark horses have galloped ahead of Pakistan, Australia, India and Bangladesh in their group and although there's still some way to go to the winning post, the Black Caps have nudged ahead into the bend and have a little bit of a glimpse of that finish line.
There are still some questions regarding their all-rounder heavy batting line-up, but their bowlers, especially, their spin attack, have made up for those gremlins. And one of the bright spots to come out of it is Mitchell Santner. The lad from Hamilton is still taking baby steps into an international career, the 24-year-old having played 24 matched old across formats. But the left left-arm spinner could perhaps be the heir apparent to the legendary Daniel Vettori.
After a damage limitation exercise of 18 from 17 balls to somewhat rescue New Zealand's floundering innings against India, Santner belied his age by reading the Nagpur surface astutely to give MS Dhoni's men a taste of their own medicine. He ensured runs were at a premium before capping off the night with impressive figures of 4-0-11-4. The spin trio of Santner, Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum railroaded India's road show with a chastening defeat.
And on Friday, Santner showed it was no fluke with two for 30.
Australia-England contests may be the highlight but there still remains that spark in the trans-Tasman rivalry between New Zealand and Australia.
So it was and it played out in the high altitude Dharamsala. It was the same batting from the other day that turned up yet again, scratching their way to 142, with opener Martin Guptill the top accumulator with 39.
It was as good as over others would have thought but not New Zealand. They are the most industrious of cricketers, with the perfect team ethic. More importantly, they held the strong belief that its not over until its over.
McClenaghan, the other Mitchell, who replaced Nathan McCullum in the line-up may have landed the Man of the Match honours for his three for 17, but Santner it was who laid the groundwork, with the scalps of Steve Smith.
The Smith dismissal was undoubtedly the highlight of the match. The Australian captain put on his dancing shoes but Santner foxed him in the air and off the pitch and was well and truly beaten. A cluless Smith knew he was made to look like a rag doll and didn't even bother to retract his steps as Luke Ronchi whipped the bails off.

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