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India T20I tour of NZ: Injury-stricken Black Caps call up pacer Hamish Bennett & Williamson returns

Kane Williamson, after recovering from his hip injury, is back to lead New Zealand's T20I side

Kane Williamson, after recovering from his hip injury, is back to lead New Zealand's T20I side. 32-year-old pacer Hamish Bennett has been called up amid multiple injury concerns.

The Kiwi injury epidemic

It seems as all of New Zealand's bad karma, if there was any, has come back to haunt them, all at the same time. Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the Australia Test series due to a right calf muscle-tendon strain. Trent Boult, after recovering from a rib injury, fractured his hand in the same series. Tom Latham broke his finger while Matt Henry broke his thumb.

If this was not enough, Doug Bracewell is not available for selection due to a knee injury. Will Young is suffering from a shoulder injury. Adam Milne has a twisted ankle while Seth Rance is suffering from a Achilles tendon injury.

If a medical student wanted a good sample of diverse sports injuries, the Kiwi camp is the place to go.

On a serious note, the Black Caps have really been hamstrung by so many of their top players being unavailable. This can also hamper the fierce competition that the series initially promised.

Hamish Bennett called up

One's loss is someone else's gain. Hamish Bennett, who played his last ODI for New Zealand in May 2017 and is still uncapped in T20Is, was far behind in the pecking order. However, a good Super Smash season in which he picked up 14 wickets from 10 games and the concurrent injuries have meant that Bennett has been called up in the squad and is expected to make his T20I debut in the first match of the series itself.

Chief Selector Gavin Larsen praised the 32-year-old for his consistent performances and evolved T20 skill set: "We're delighted to have Hamish back in the fold for what will be a huge series against India. Over the past few seasons he's consistently been one of the top domestic white-ball bowlers and we've been impressed how he's been able to evolve his game.

"We all know he brings good pace and bounce but it's the clever variations he's added that make him such a well-rounded T20 bowler," Larsen said.

Bennett will join hands with Tim Southee, Scott Kuggeleijn and Blair Tickner to form the Kiwi pace attack while Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner are their leading spinners.

Kane Williamson returns to T20Is

Kane Williamson, who missed out on the five-match T20I series against England which New Zealand lost 3-2 due to a hip injury, will return to the T20I side as the skipper. Williamson also missed out on the New Year Test against Australia due to flu-like symptoms.

The skipper is not as highly rated in T20I cricket as he is in Tests and ODIs but with an average of over 30 in T20Is and a strike rate of 120+ he has his own utility. Apart from holding one end up, his experience and wisdom are priceless and will certainly help New Zealand to give India a fight despite all their injury concerns.

New Zealand A squad also announced

Before the seniors lock horns, the A teams of both the sides will be a part of a proper series that will last from January 17 to February 10 and will include 2 Tests and 5 ODIs. New Zealand have also announced their squad for the 5-match ODI A series.

"The next few weeks will be really intense for our elite male cricketers and we're fully aware of the challenges ahead. We're clearly wanting to win the series in front of us while also considering our wider T20 World Cup campaign plan," Larsen concluded.

New Zealand A skipper Tom Bruce will be available for the final two matches of the T20I series and will come in the squad in place of all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme. Daryl Mitchell finds a place in both the A and the senior squad while James Neesham is only part of the A squad.

Here's a look at the senior and A squads:

New Zealand T20I Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, Tom Bruce (4th and 5th T20Is) Colin de Grandhomme (1st, 2nd and 3rd T20Is)

New Zealand A ODI squad: Tom Bruce (c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell (wk), Mark Chapman, Jacob Duffy, Kyle Jamieson, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Ollie Newton, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, George Worker

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