New Zealand plan to carry the momentum of a 21-run victory over England into their third T20I after a tough run for the host nation’s sporting teams.
Questions about the All Blacks’ semi-final defeat to England in Japan last weekend come heavily laden with apology in recognition of the fact that New Zealanders live and breathe rugby like nothing else. But Mitchell Santner, the star of Sunday’s triumph in Wellington, offered a reminder that his country’s other World Cup defeat was still smarting as he reflected on the Black Cap’s first win over England in any format since their innings victory in the rain-affected day-night Test in Auckland in March 2018.
“Before or after the World Cup final?” Santner laughed when asked what kind of relationship New Zealand had with the England side. “Nah, pretty good. They’re nice guys off the field, and on, I guess. It’s obviously a younger team they’ve got there for the T20s but also a dangerous team so we’ve got to not take that for granted but they’ve got some superstars in their team as well so it was nice to get the win today.”
“They’ve had the rub of the green on us a little bit lately but I think after the last performance, we were a little bit off, it was nice to get that win today. As a unit we just wanted to be a little bit better in all three aspects and I think today we were so I guess that’s the pleasing thing. You can take that momentum into the next game as well.”
Santner’s 3 for 25 was pivotal in an improved all-round New Zealand performance compared to their seven-wicket loss in the first match of the series and included the wicket of Chris Jordan, whose 36 off 19 balls formed a rearguard that gave England some hope of overhauling the target of 177.
The old adage “catches win matches” was rightfully applied as England put down four crucial chances while their opponents held theirs.
“Our fielding was pretty key, some good catches there, and as a bowler if the fielding group is up it’s a good feeling,” Santner said. “We did pretty well to get to 170 on a pretty good surface and bowled pretty well to defend it.”
With the five-match series level at 1-1, Santner said New Zealand would look to replicate their Wellington performance when the sides meet again in Nelson on Tuesday.
“We adjusted pretty well coming from Hagley where it’s a big ground all-round to here,” he said. “We’ve got to adapt again. It’s a slightly different ground that can be short depending on where the wicket is but it’s more a ground like Hagley where boundaries are pretty even all the way round and the pitch in the past has been a little bit slow so we’ve probably got to adjust again.
“But I think that’s a credit to what happened today, we adapted pretty quickly to the surface and the dimensions. The team that can adapt the fastest usually comes out on top.”
England captain Eoin Morgan said the visitors must learn form their errors ahead of the next match.
“We didn’t bat or field anywhere near what we did the other day,” Morgan told Sky Sports. “On this ground in particular, you probably take a little more risk than usual because of the dimensions, but I thought New Zealand bowled well and made us hit to the longer side.
“We need to continue a positive, aggressive mindset. It’s important to make mistakes – the most important part is to learn from them. If young lads can continue to do that early in their international career, they’ll do well.”