Second spinner might have helped New Zealand, admits Santner

New Zealand are arguably the best side when it comes to reading pitches in tournament play but on a slow Edgbaston track that turned considerably there were admissions after their loss to Pakistan that they had missed a trick by picking just one frontline spinner and omitting Ish Sodhi from the team.

In the absence of Sodhi’s legspin, New Zealand turned to the part time offspin of Kane Williamson to partner Mitchell Santner, as they tried to defend 237 and break up the key partnership between Babar Azam and Haris Sohail. After the match, Santner admitted they were deceived by pitch and thought it would offer more for the pace bowlers.

“Obviously there was a bit of turn out there, probably more than we thought there would be,” Santner said. “Obviously at the toss, only going with one spinner, we thought it might be a bit better than that.

Babar Azam shouts to Mohammad Hafeez Getty Images

“It’s the spinner’s role to take wickets on a surface like that but I think credit has to go to the way Pakistan batted throughout the middle. That partnership through the middle there was pretty special. There were a couple of chances there but it’s about trying to build up pressure from both ends and stuff like that, but the way they were able to manipulate the field, and get their ones, when you’re only chasing 230, is the way to go about it.

“I think we fought pretty well to the end and I guess they only got it in the last over. It was obviously a tough surface and we just had to stick at it. If we could put a couple on it, a couple of wickets on throughout that chase it might have been a little bit different.”

After New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat, James Neesham made an unbeaten 97, his highest ODI score. He was one of eight bowlers used by Williamson, highlighting the desperation with which New Zealand were seeking a breakthrough.

Watch on Hotstar (India only) – Neesham’s 97 not out

Before their previous match at Edgbaston, a final-over win against South Africa, New Zealand had spoken to Warwickshire captain and former Black Cap Jeetan Patel for advice on the pitch. Colin de Grandhomme has also played for the Birmingham Bears in the past two seasons.

But Neesham suggested the information they gleaned before playing Pakistan was not especially accurate.

“I think we can only obviously work on what we’re told leading into the game,” Neesham said. “We probably selected the team based on the information we had. In hindsight, it’s easy to say an extra spinner would have been useful, but I think with the balls we had, the quality we had at the bowling crease was enough to defend that total, and unfortunately, it just didn’t fall our way today.”

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