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Santner at heart of Black Caps fightback

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/09/2016

New Zealand's Mitchell Santner celebrates the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma during their first test match in Kanpur, India, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. © AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal New Zealand's Mitchell Santner celebrates the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma during their first test match in Kanpur, India, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner isn't getting carried away after returning to haunt India's top-order on the opening day of the first Test in Kanpur.

Santner was a central figure in restricting the hosts to 291-9 after they had appeared set to post an imposing first innings score when reaching 154-1 midway through the second session at Green Park.

Undeterred, Santner maintained the pressure with his left-arm spin, adding the key scalps of Cheteshwar Pujara (62) and Rohit Sharma (35) to the earlier scalp of opener Lokesh Rahul (32).

His figures of 3-77 were bettered by seamer Trent Boult's 3-57, who had success with the second new ball against the lower order.

Santner's only other taste of international cricket in India was the World Twenty20 in March in which he was one of the tournament's premier players, taking 10 wickets.

That included 4-11 off four overs against India in Nagpur when the hosts were felled for 79 in a 47-run loss.

Conditions in Kanpur weren't as helpful but Santner said there was still enough to keep he, Ish Sodhi (1-50) and Mark Craig (1-59) interested as the three-pronged Kiwi spin attack sent down 59 overs between them.

Santner said they improved as the day wore on, developing a method to make the most of slow turn.

"As a three I think we can be reasonably happy with our performance," he said.

"You just have find a pace that's suitable to the wicket. It might change in the second innings, but today it was bowling at that faster pace.

"You've just got to be patient, build dots and try to get wickets that way through false shots, rather than try to spin them out."

Keeping the ball dry in stifling conditions was another challenge for the Black Caps attack, with sweat making it difficult to grip the leather.

Santner expects the pitch to deteriorate, meaning a solid first innings response with the bat on Friday will be critical.

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