World Cup finalists New Zealand have picked as many as four spinners in their 15-man squad for the upcoming two-Test series in Sri Lanka starting August 14. While the Test series will be part of the ICC World Test Championship, the Black Caps will also be playing the Lankans in three T20Is between August 31 and September 6. The squad will be led by Kane Williamson, who fell unbelievably short of the World Cup in a thrilling final played at Lord’s on July 14.
The four spinners that the Kiwis have picked are William Somerville, Ajaz Patel, Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle. While the first two had played a decisive role in helping New Zealand clinch their Test series against Pakistan 2-1 in the UAE last year, Santner has been one of their main bowlers in the limited-overs. The leg-spinner Astle has played in only four Tests and was sidelined last year due to injury. Left-arm spinner Santner hasn’t played in a Test match since December 2017 because of a knee injury.
“Playing three spinners is an option in Sri Lankan conditions and we believe this group provides the best variations and skill mix on offer. England were playing three spinners against Sri Lanka on their successful visit there last year and the slow bowlers also dominated the previous series against South Africa,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead was quoted by Cricbuzz as saying.
Only three specialist pacers in the squad
The visitors, however, picked only three seamers in their squad – including the veterans Trent Boult and Tim Southee besides Neil Wagner. Colin de Grandhomme has been opted for as a seam-bowling all-rounder. Lockie Ferguson, who had an impressive World Cup with 21 wickets, was not chosen. Tom Blundell, who has a hundred on his Test debut, was picked as the back-up wicket-keeper to BJ Watling.
New Zealand are touring Sri Lanka for the first time since 2012-13 and have won their only Test series on the Asian nation’s soil in 1983-84. Stead said it was time for the Kiwis to look forward as a group after their more-than-impressive campaign at the World Cup and concentrate on the Test championship that will take place over a two-year period.
“It’s good timing for us after the World Cup. It was an incredible time for the team and the country, but we’re now excited to move forward as a group and sink our teeth into another opportunity,” he further added.
New Zealand Test squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Henry Nicholls, Tom Latham, Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.
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