Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner took his 100th one-day international wicket in the ICC World Cup 2023 victory over Afghanistan but admitted it will be a “tough challenge” to even get within touching distance of New Zealand record holder Daniel Vettori.
Fellow spinner Vettori, who retired after the 2015 World Cup final, ended his career with 297 ODI wickets for New Zealand, as well as an additional eight more taken with a World XI team.
On Wednesday, Santner took 3-39 as Afghanistan were dismissed for just 139 to lose by 149 runs.
The 31-year-old now has 102 ODI wickets and his 11 at this World Cup put him on top of the bowling charts while also boasting a mean average of just over 15.
“It’s obviously nice to get to that milestone,” said Santner of reaching the 100-wicket mark, becoming only the second Kiwi spinner behind Vettori to achieve the distinction.
“But I am just trying to perform my role and do a job out there.”
He added: “I think I’m 200-odd wickets behind him (Vettori), so it’s going to be a tough challenge to get there. But yeah, I obviously watched a lot of him do his thing over a long period of time.”
Santner is enjoying the spin-friendly conditions of the sub-continent, which is a world away from the seamers’ paradise that is New Zealand.
“It’s obviously nice to come here and see the ball spin a little bit which you don’t really get in New Zealand,” said Santner.
New Zealand, runners-up at the last two World Cups, are well placed to reach the semi-finals after a fourth win in four games so far.
Afghanistan, who shocked defending champions England on Sunday, were the authors of their own downfall, dropping five catches.
In stark contrast, Santner took a superb catch to dismiss Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi.
“I didn’t think I was going to get there at the start,” said Santner of his catch off fast bowler Lockie Ferguson.
“But I guess lucky for me I’ve got very long arms and was able to kind of pluck it out.”
Santner praised Afghanistan’s bowling which reduced the Kiwis to 110-4 at one stage.
“I think you’ve got to give credit to Afghanistan,” he said. “They bowled extremely well at the top.”
Next for New Zealand will be a clash with India, the tournament’s only other undefeated side, in Dharamsala on Sunday.
“They look pretty tough to beat,” said Santner of India who face Bangladesh in Pune on Thursday, after having won their first three games.
“We’ll have to do our assessment in Dharamsala — see what the wicket’s going to do. And obviously there has been a little pace and bounce, but whether that is the case when we play them, we’ll see.
“So yeah, we’ve just got to keep focused on the things we want to and how we want to play. Obviously, it’s nice to be in this position to lead into this game.”