Mitchell Santner says winning close encounters gives New Zealand confidence

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Mitchell Santner believes New Zealand are a ‘scrappy side’ (Mark Kerton/PA)

Mitchell Santner revealed New Zealand take pride in being a “scrappy side” after winning a number of close encounters during their unbeaten start to the World Cup.

The Kiwis got over the line with three balls to spare against South Africa last week while Carlos Brathwaite’s century led the West Indies to within one six of victory, only for the all-rounder to hole out to long-on.

New Zealand therefore prevailed by five runs in a thriller at Old Trafford on Saturday night, and they could guarantee their passage to the semi-finals with victory over Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

The spin bowling all-rounder said: “We’re quite a scrappy side and we pride ourselves on winning those little moments, like I guess we have been. Saying that, we could have been on the other end of a couple of those games.

“I guess the key so far is other people have been stepping up, and I guess that’s what you want to do as a team. You want everyone to step up at different times throughout the tournament, that’s what we’ve found so far.

“We haven’t relied on a few guys to do the bulk of the work, but in saying that, being on the winning side of those tight encounters gives the whole squad confidence.

“That’s nice, going into each game, that you know you’ve got confidence. The team, other people are standing up at different times, and you can back everyone to do a job rather than just relying on a couple of key players.”

While Santner insists the Black Caps are not carrying any passengers, captain Kane Williamson is in sublime form, following up a match-winning 106 not out against the Proteas with 148 against the Windies.

Santner added: “He’s coming off two hundreds, and the one against South Africa the other night was pretty special. Obviously, the other day it was his highest score in ODI cricket.

“The guys batting around him have been pretty good as well. I guess that’s our blueprint, try to take it deep, try to be two or three down after 30 overs and then trying to catch up from there until the last 10.

“I guess most of our games we’re trying to set scores, it’s been pretty good.”

Pakistan need to win their three remaining fixtures and hope results elsewhere go in their favour if they are to progress beyond the group stage.

Bowling coach Azhar Mahmood insists Pakistan need to focus on themselves, rather than what their opponents do well.

He said: “If we do our basics right, it’s just about us, not about them. We need to do our things right.

“If we do our discipline right, we can beat any side.”

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