In his first competitive match in nine months after recovering from knee surgery, left-arm spin-bowling allrounder Mitchell Santner made a cameo with the bat, bowled three overs, and even took two catches. All these contributed to Northern Districts' victory in the Super Smash opener.
Santner came into bat in the 17th over after Norther Districts were inserted by Wellington Firebirds. He marked his return with a hard-run two and ended unbeaten on 22 off 13 balls, lifting his side from 179 for 4 to 215 for 6.
Santner belted the third ball he faced straight over mid-off for four and then cracked James Neesham for two fours off three balls, including a firm back-foot punch through extra-cover.
Santner got a life when he was dropped on 13 by Luke Woodcock at short fine leg off Neesham in the same over. He added nine more to his tally, setting Wellington 216.
Santner's bowling showed signs of rust: his first ball was a low full-toss that was hacked away to the leg side and his second was short, wide ball that was carved away behind point for four. He then tightened up and came away with figures of 0 for 28 in three overs.
Santner tested out his knee in the outfield, taking two catches, including that of Malcolm Nofal, which sealed a 45-run win for Northern Districts.
Santner had carried the knee complaint for a large chunk of the previous season and eventually needed surgery. He was sidelined from New Zealand's Test series against England, Pakistan, and the ongoing series against Sri Lanka. Santner also missed the IPL with Chennai Super Kings and his county stint with Derbyshire earlier this year.