New Zealand’s senior pacer Trent Boult will make his comeback from injury in the 13-member squad for the first Test match against India starting in Wellington on February 21.
The squad will also feature a new face in the longest format when the 6 feet 8 inch giant pacer Kyle Jamieson makes his debut in the Test team, which will make slow left-arm orthodox Ajaz Patel as the only spinner.
Jamieson, who made his ODI debut against India in the recently concluded series, according to head coach and chief selector Gary Stead can make a difference with the bounce he can offer.
“Kyle will offer us a point of difference with the bounce he could extract on what is traditionally a good surface in Wellington,” Stead said about the pacer who replaced injured Lockie Ferguson midway in Australia in December last year.
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Boult’s comeback is a big boost for the New Zealand side as he missed the entire limited-overs leg due to a fractured right hand sustained during the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the MCG.
“It’s terrific to have Trent back with us and were looking forward to the energy and experience he adds to the group alongside his obvious class with the ball in hand,” he added.
Mumbai-born Patel was chosen over leg-spinner Ish Sodhi because of his consistency.
“We’re excited to welcome back Ajaz (Patel) who has done a great job for us overseas and has a proven domestic record in New Zealand conditions,” the coach said.
Daryl Mitchell of Northern Districts is also in the squad as a batting all-rounder.
“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,” Stead said.
Tom Blundell will continue to open the batting along side Tom Latham following his breakthrough century in Melbourne.
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The Wellington Test will also be Ross Taylors 100th Test, joining ranks with his former teammates Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, and Stephen Fleming.
Taylor will become the first cricketer in the world to complete 100 games across three international formats.
“To play 100 Tests for your country is an incredible achievement and a testament to his work ethic and complete professionalism,” Stead said of Taylor.
The coach, however, acknowledged that they had to make some tough decisions while selecting the 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 said.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.
(With inputs from agencies)