While Glenn Phillips was undoubtedly the hero of the Blackcaps' four-wicket victory to level the test series against Bangladesh, the role of Mitchell Santner should not be overlooked.

Down 0-1 in the two-match series and playing in conditions detrimental to batting from the first session of the first day, New Zealand ground out one of the most impressive wins in recent memory.

Pivotal to their cause were the efforts of Phillips, who was named Man of the Match for figures of 3/31 with the ball, and scores of 87 and a matchwinning 40 not out in the second innings, when the Blackcaps chased down 137.

Playing his first test in more than two years, Santner's efforts are just as worthy of recognition. With the ball, the allrounder returned career-best figures of 3/51 in Bangladesh's second innings and career-best match figures of 6/116.

His display with the bat also went a long way towards his team reeling in Bangladesh's target.

At 69/6 in the fourth innings, with the Blackcaps entire top order dismissed, Santner combined with Phillips to add an unbeaten 70-run stand - the highest partnership of the match - in conditions that favoured the home spinners.

The pair's combined aggression, with Santner adding an unbeaten 35 from 39 balls to complement Phillips' 40 not out, ensured any momentum Bangladesh had was quickly wiped out in what proved to be the final session of the series.

At the very least, that partnership saw New Zealand avoid the ignominy of a maiden test series defeat to Bangladesh and earn 12 crucial points for the new World Test Championship cycle.  

At a time when the test hung in the balance, Phillips makes no bones of Santner's role in guiding the Blackcaps to victory.

"Obviously, the way Slink [Santner] batted at the end made it a really fluent chase," said Phillips. "They were bowling really well at the time.

"He came out and we got through to tea, which was a real blessing for us. We'd managed to have a bit of a chat and talk a little bit about tactics.

"He's got incredibly fast hands and I let him in on what my gameplan was in terms of staying leg-side, and using my hands and bat to play the ball. He thought that was a good option for him as well.

"The way he came out after tea and really took it to the bowlers, the way he played the 'offies', as well, was incredibly impressive. That took a lot of pressure off myself and with the boys waiting to come in as well, it took a lot of pressure off them too."

While he may be secure as a guaranteed starter in Blackcaps white-ball sides, Santner's place in test cricket is far from safe.

Since his 2015 debut, Santner has played just 25 times in the whites for his country, with last previous appearance being June 2021.  

Not helped by seam-friendly home conditions, Santner's returns with bat and ball are hardly anything to write home about. His 47 wickets have come at a high average of just over 42 and a strike rate of over 90.

Meanwhile, an average of just over 25 with the bat probably doesn't best represent Santner's true abilities seen during his innings at Dhaka.

Now as a senior member of this Blackcaps core, thanks to his white-ball success, Santner's role should not be overlooked and won't be by selectors any time soon.  

Even if he's competing with Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi for a place in the playing XI, Santner's allround package will give him a vital boost over his competition.  

Phillips' showings in Bangladesh should at least see him retain his place in the New Zealand test side for the upcoming home summer, able to bat in the top seven, along with his bowling on seaming wickets.  

In conditions where spin will have the largest say, including the Blackcaps' travels to both India and Sri Lanka in this World Test Championship cycle, Santner has proved he's up to the job required of him as a test player.

2023-12-11T00:47:01Z dg43tfdfdgfd