Blackcaps allrounder Mitchell Santner plays match-winning hand against England

Blackcaps hero Mitchell Santner has responded to his critics in the ideal way – helping guide his team to a win that at one stage had seemed improbable.

The 26-year-old struck an unbeaten 45 off 27 balls to free the hosts from the jaws of defeat and claim a 1-0 ODI series lead against England.

The chorus of non-believers has been growing in recent times in regards to Santner's status as an allrounder, the spinner being dropped down the order after an initially promising start to his career with the bat. This was the brand of innings Blackcaps fans had expected they'd be seeing plenty more of.

Santner also played another significant hand in the Blackcaps bowling attack, finishing with 2-54 from his allotted 10 overs highlights by a gem of a delivery to dismiss opener Jason Roy. 

Hoisting the third ball of the 50th over into the stands, Santner admitted he was slightly taken aback by the occasion.

"I didn't know what to do," Santner said post-match. "I don't usually celebrate."

Despite Ross Taylor and Tom Latham's sublime 178-run fourth wicket partnership after collapsing to 27/3, the New Zealanders found themselves staring up hill as the contest entered its final stages.

"The way Tommy Latham and Ross set that up for us at the end gave us a chance to do what we did at the end there," Santner said.

Blackcaps allrounder Mitchell Santner plays match-winning hand against England
Photo credit: Getty

"Being three down under the pump early - that brilliant partnership in the middle set it up for us.

"We talked about we could chase tens - but it was hard to start, the new batsman incoming having to hit straight away was always going to be difficult."

He said Taylor advised him he could "take a few dots to get in but you could catch up later on at the end".

"Good that he listened," Taylor said as the pair addressed the media side-by-side at the post-match press conference.

Taylor's masterful 113 off 116, his 18th ODI century, earned him man of the match. He maintained the Blackcaps always knew they were in with a chance with the small boundaries on offer.

"You always knew in Hamilton that you were only a couple of big hits away from keeping up with the run rate," Taylor said. "They made a few plays - bringing Rashid on to get me out, that was a bold move, then to continue him, also

"Credit to this guy [Santner]. Tommy [Latham] and I did well but the way he was able to get us across the line was very important."


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