Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and middle-order batter Glenn Phillips have backed captain Kane Williamson to come good with the bat in the Men’s T20 World Cup after New Zealand lost to England by 20 runs in their Group 1 match at The Gabba.
In New Zealand’s chase of 180, Williamson played a run-a-ball knock of 40, hitting just three fours at a strike-rate of 100. His knock again served a reminder of how the right-handed batter had struggled to get going, especially against the slower bowlers, in the tournament.
But Santner credited England’s bowlers for not allowing Williamson to get away, which resulted in his dismissal in the 15th over as the asking rate ballooned to 12. “I think it’s the way England bowled. They bowled very well through the middle there. The spinners bowled very well at Kane.
“The English spinners did a great job as well. They had three. I thought Mo (Moeen Ali) probably could have bowled a couple more overs after watching that first one. I think they kind of adjusted pretty well to the surface, a lot of cutters into it.
“If you look at the partnership, Glenn was going pretty good, and Kane was kind of, like you said, playing the anchor. We got ourself into a good position five or six out, and I think there was a couple of quality overs from Sam Curran and Chris Woakes that took it away from us in the end,” said Santner in the post-match press conference.
Despite Williamson struggling to accelerate against England at The Gabba, Phillips was firm in backing his captain to continue batting at number three. “Kane’s gold at three for us. He understands situations and I know he had a little bit of a tough day today (on Tuesday). But with his experience, the ability to take a game deep and command the middle overs is crucial.
“To be able to have myself, (James) Neesham, Daryl (Mitchell), as well as (Mitchell) Santner doing our role at the end, having Kane doing what he’s doing at the moment. We know that he’s going to come right at some point, he always does and we can’t necessarily judge him by one game.”
“England bowled really well to him and they shut down his areas. Next game he could very easily get 50 off 20 balls as well so we back him fully,” said the right-hander, who made 62, to reporters in the mixed zone.
With New Zealand now all set to face Ireland in their final Group 1 match, Santner felt the Blackcaps were still in a good position to reach the semifinals. “We obviously knew England were going to be a challenge no matter where or when you play them. I guess we’re still in a pretty good position.”