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Sports

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Agencies
March 14, 2018

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Santner sidelined because of knee injury

CHRISTCHURCH: New Zealand have been dealt a significant blow ahead of the Test series against England with allrounder Mitchell Santner ruled out due to his ongoing right knee problem. However, wicketkeeper BJ Watling returns having missed the matches against West Indies in December.

Todd Astle, the legspinner, is the one frontline spinner included in a 12-man squad while Ross Taylor is expected to be fit after the thigh injury which kept him out of the deciding ODI in Christchurch following his unbeaten 181 to level the series in Dunedin.

Santner produced career-best form with the bat in the one-day series but has been troubled by his knee issue for much of the season. He was forced to sit out the record-breaking T20 against Australia at Eden Park in February.

At times during the one-day series, especially on practice days, he has looked in discomfort but managed to play all five games - although he bowled just two overs in Wellington - and scored 216 runs including two half-centuries at No. 6, twice bettering his previous high scores. There are concerns the knee problem could require a lengthy period on the sidelines and put his Chennai Super Kings deal at the IPL and his English county stint with Derbyshire at risk. Santner had been included for the two-day pink-ball match against England in Hamilton starting on Wednesday before the seriousness of the injury became clear.

In the short term, Santner’s absence will mean rejgging New Zealand’s middle order. Against West Indies earlier this season he was batting at No. 6 although Watling’s return after a hip problem offers the option of him filling that position.

Colin de Grandhomme could then follow at No. 7, where he scored 185 runs in three innings in the West Indies series, including a maiden century off 71 balls. Also, though Santner’s Test record with the ball of 34 wickets at 37.05 does not leap out, his economy rate of 2.79 has offered Kane Williamson important control. Astle’s inclusion ahead of Ish Sodhi, who impressed during the one-day series, highlights the loss of Santner’s batting and the impact on New Zealand’s balance.

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