New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi said the Kiwi bowlers were immensely benefited by the pressure put on by left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner during his team’s 8-wicket win over India on Sunday (October 31) in the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.
Santner may not have picked up a wicket, but his tight spell (0/15) helped New Zealand immensely in putting pressure on the Indian batters, and Sodhi said bowlers like him (2/17) and Trent Boult (20/3) made the most of the situation to restrict the Men in Blue to 110/7 in Dubai.
Sodhi said during the post-match press conference, “The way that he (Santner) bowled today, four overs through the middle. One of those in the powerplay to create the pressure that he did and do some false strokes. I think a lot of us bowlers benefit a lot from the pressure that he puts on through that middle period. And that can definitely never go unnoticed.”
Describing the win over India as “special”, the leg-spinner said: “You go into matches like this with a team full of world-class performers like India have, and they’ve got a great record against us over the past few years. They are very tough opposition in any conditions anywhere in the world. So, it’s definitely a special win. After a tough loss against Pakistan, the boys regrouped really well. And to be able to pull off a win like that, it’s definitely something you don’t take lightly.”
Sodhi also called Daryl Mitchell’s knock of 49 off 35 balls an “icing on the cake”. He added, “I think that’s phenomenal. Just speaking to him (Mitchell) then, it was his second game-opening the batting in T20 professional cricket. Facing one of the best bowling attacks in the world. And it’s a huge testament to his character, and the backing he’s receiving from our camp, believe in his ability immensely. It was never going to be an easy chase. They’re always going to come out, be aggressive with the ball.”
Praising his teammates for the composure they showed against Team India, the spinner noted: “I suppose it was quite hard not to think it was a big game in this competition for us over the past few days. But I guess it kind of was, but the boys just held their composure really well. The toss went our way. And we’ve got a tremendous amount of experience in this group.”
On being asked did New Zealand change its plan with India’s decision to send Ishan Kishan for the opening, Sodhi said: “The change to the team was something that we found out quite late. Ishan Kishan has obviously been in great form. So, we had to think on our feet, which I think the powerplay bowlers did exceptionally well in doing.”
He also hailed New Zealand’s bowling performance as “very special” against India. He added, “It’s very special. I think you can often get caught in that trap of expectations. We played a great game against some in the 2016 World Cup, but when you say 2016 it’s five years ago.”
Sodhi concluded, “We change. A lot of players change. Strategies change. I think T20 cricket, in general, has changed a lot even in that time. But I think looking back at tonight especially, I go back to the amount of pressure that was created by Mitch.
And also the powerplay bowlers for keeping it really tight. And Boult and Tim Southee, obviously stalwarts in New Zealand cricket. Adam Milne had a tough over but he came back exceptionally well and finished with some pretty good figures on that wicket.”