New Zealand squad for India Tests: Pace trioka back together, Jamieson & Patel called up
While Kyle Jamieson and Ajaz Patel have been included in New Zealand's 13-member squad for the two-match Test series against India, Mitchell Santner, Jeet Rawal and Matt Henry are the ones to miss out.
Pace trioka back together
It seemed as if New Zealand's Test tour of Australia was cursed. Not only did the visitors not come close to winning, several of their players got injured and nothing went in their favour at all.
Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the 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. Tim Southee was not played in the third Test due to exhaustion while skipper Kane Williamson missed out due to illness.
However, with some rest and possibly the alignment of the stars changing, the key players are back to fitness and have been included in the 13-strong squad, which marks the comeback of Trent Boult, the leader of the New Zealand bowling attack. He will join forces with Tim Southee, who would be raring to go with the red cherry in hand and swing on offer, his strongest suit.
The third part of the trioka is Neil Wagner - the most underrated of the lot. In the series against Australia, Wagner was the most successful Kiwi bowler and picked up the second-most wickets with 17 scalps including two 4-wicket hauls. Wagner became the second-fastest New Zealand bowler to pick up 200 Test wickets (in 46 matches), surpassing Trent Boult.
Opportunities for Kyle Jamieson and Ajaz Patel
Mitchell Santner, Jeet Rawal and Matt Henry all of whom failed to impress Down Under have made way for Daryl Mitchell, Kyle Jamieson and Ajaz Patel.
"Kyle will offer us a point of difference with the bounce he could extract on what is traditionally a good surface in Wellington," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. "We're excited to welcome back Ajaz, who has done a great job for us overseas and has a proven domestic record in New Zealand conditions."
"Daryl showed his batting prowess in his Test debut against England in Hamilton and he naturally offers us great versatility with the different roles he can play."
Opener Jeet Rawal had been struggling at the top for a long time now. He had the best of 33 in his last 11 Test innings and has been dropped for Tom Blundell, who impressed on debut with a century.
Mitchell Santner, who was the team's leading spinner at the start of the series, lost his spot after conceding 250 runs from two games and picking up just one wicket. The left-arm spinner played four Tests in the 2019-20 season in which he picked up only five wickets at an average of 83.00.
Ajaz Patel is the only spinner in the Kiwi squad. Patel played his last Test on the the team's tour of Sri Lanka in August 2019 but had dropped behind Santner, Todd Astle and William Somerville in the pecking order.
Matt Henry could only manage two scalps in the only Test he played in the summer and has also been dropped. Kyle Jamieson impressed in recent domestic matches and had a great couple of ODIs against India. He earns a spot in the squad.
Daryl Mitchell impressed in the warm-up match against India, with both bat and ball, and has earned a call-up as well.
Just a 13-member squad
"With a squad of 13 we've put a priority on balance and making sure we have the needed variety and different options depending on the pitch conditions at the Basin Reserve," Stead added.
It is brave on the part of the Kiwi management to announce just a 13-member squad. Especially, when they had to call up multiple replacements midway in their last series against Australia, owing to injuries.
The fact that this is a home Test series and a shorter two-match affair lends itself to the selection of a smallish squad. More than that, it conveys the confidence that the management is showing in the selected bunch of players and backing them to come up with the goods.
Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Ajaz Patel, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell
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