New Zealand’s stand-in captain Mitchell Santner believes he harbors a similar level of calm as Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming. The bowling all-rounder felt he had gained a lot after working alongside Dhoni in the Super Kings’ set-up for a few years now.
With the likes of Kane Williamson and Tim Southee skipping the T20I series against India, the selectors have chosen Santner to lead a young Kiwi squad. The 30-year-old has previously captained New Zealand in ten T20Is, winning eight of them, and led the Black Caps to victory in the only ODI he skippered.
While Santner admitted that staying composed is his nature, there are nerves, given the excitement of leading New Zealand in India. The left-arm spinner said it was enthralling to be back in Dhoni’s hometown of Ranchi and is looking forward to channeling his calmness in the T20 series.
As quoted by ESPNCricinfo, he said:
“Yeah, I guess that being cool is my nature, and it has been like that for a little while now. But there’s also nerves and it’s very exciting to captain another series in India – it doesn’t get much better than that. So, definitely looking forward to it. If you look at both of them, they’re very calm and very level-headed, which I like.
“So, I feel like I’m similar in that respect and working alongside MS has been a pretty cool experience for a few years now. I guess it’s nice to be back at his home ground as well. And Flem, he’s the same, very level-headed and keeps it very relaxed and that’s what we try to do in this set-up as well.”
Speaking on ESPNCricinfo Open Mic during the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, Fleming conceded that Santner was amongst those in the Super Kings set-up interested in a leadership role. New Zealand head coach Gary Stead stated that his vast exposure to T20 cricket made him a captaincy candidate.
“Every time you play for your country is a great honour” – Mitchell Santner
Santner suggested that the T20I series against India could be a high-scoring one and that New Zealand have a point to prove after losing the ODI series 3-0. He added:
“Every time you play for your country is a great honour. So, you want to put out the best that you can and I guess the way the way ODI cricket is going at the moment with high scores, you know it’s not too different to T20. So banking the experiences in T20 cricket this year will be similar to what we got in the one-day series, where we saw some high scores and good hitting.
“I guess trying to bank those experiences from that series, yes, we obviously lost 3-0, but we showed glimpses in games that we want to take forward in this series.”
The Kiwis went into the three-game ODI series as the number-one ranked team in the ICC rankings, but India took that spot after blanking them.