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Henry Nicholls replaces Ross Taylor for first Test against Australia

Henry Nicholls replaces Ross Taylor for first Test against Australia
Ross Taylor suffered a side strain during the third Twenty20 International against Pakistan in Wellington.
©REUTERS / Action Images
 

Injured New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor has been ruled out of the upcoming first Test against Australia with the selectors opting to pick Henry Nicholls as a replacement.

Taylor suffered a side strain during the third Twenty20 International against Pakistan in Wellington and was subsequently ruled out of the One-Day International series against Pakistan and Australia.

Nicholls on the other hand has been in good touch in the ODI format having scored two fifties in eight matches since his debut in December 2015 against Sri Lanka.

The New Zealand pace attack is also boosted by the return of Tim Southee, who has been declared fit after recovering from a foot injury that he suffered during the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Nelson.

The selectors have also decided to pick just the one spinner in the squad with Mitchell Santner getting the nod ahead of off-spinner Mark Craig. 

Apart from the inclusion of Nicholls and the return of Southee, the selectors have decided to retain the same core of the squad which took part in the Test series against Sri Lanka.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson is impressed with Nicholls' performance and is confident that the 24-year-old can deliver good performances at the top order.

“Henry has been very impressive the way he has made the step up to international cricket and we’re confident of the job he can do for us in the top order," Hesson said.

“We’ve gone for just the one spinner in Mitch (Santner) and that’s based around what we expect the pitches to play like at Hagley and the Basin.”

Hesson is also pleased about the return of Southee and is aware that New Zealand will have to be at their absolute best to beat Australia and win the Test series.

“Tim’s a leader within our group and our most experienced bowler, so we’re excited to have him fit and a part of our pace bowling attack.

“Matt (Henry) also comes back into the squad after some really strong performances throughout the summer and with Corey’s (Anderson) return we now have a number of seam-bowling options to consider.

“It’s well documented how good a Test side Australia are and we know it will take some exceptional cricket for us to have a chance of taking out the series.

“It doesn’t get much bigger for all New Zealand fans than a Test Series against Australia.”

Meanwhile in the wicket-keeping department BJ Watling is a doubtful starter for the first Test and the selectors have named Luke Ronchi as cover.

The two-match Test series between the trans-Tasman rivals will get underway on the 12th of February in Wellington while the second match will be played in Christchurch between 20th and 24th February.

New Zealand squad for first Test against Australia:

Brendon McCullum (capt), Corey Anderson, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling (wkt)*, Kane Williamson.

*Luke Ronchi picked as cover for BJ Watling

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