WELLINGTON: Indian-born spinner Ajaz Patel was named on Wednesday in the New Zealand Test squad to play Pakistan in the three-match series in the United Arab Emirates in October.
Patel, 29, has been the leading wicket taker in New Zealand’s domestic Plunket Shield for the past three years and was named domestic player-of-the-year in 2017.
The slow let-armer, who was born in Mumbai and moved to New Zealand as a child, took 48 wickets at an average of 21.52 in his most recent season with Central Stags and has overall claimed 187 wickets in 44 first-class games since his debut in 2012-13.
Chief selector Gavin Larsen said Patel would replace the injured Mitchell Santner in the 15-man squad to face Pakistan.
“Ajaz has deserved his inclusion on the sheer weight of his domestic first-class form over the past couple of summers,” he said. “With Mitch Santner not fully recovered yet from his knee surgery, it’s nice to have both wrist [Todd Astle and Ish Sodhi] and finger [Patel] spin options, given the likely conditions in the UAE.”
New Zealand will also face Pakistan in three One-day Internationals as well as three Twenty20 Internationals. The two sides met earlier in January with the Black Caps completing a 5-0 whitewash of the ODI series before Pakistan bounced back to clinch the three-match T20 rubber 2-1 after losing the first game.
Ajaz will leave for the UAE with the New Zealand ‘A’ squad in early October and will be among those competing for the two open spots in the ODI and T20I squads each. The ‘A’ squad features first-time selections such as fast bowlers Kyle Jamieson and Blair Tickner, and NZ Under-19s player Rachin Ravindra.
One of the two ‘A’ players who’ll be drawn into the T20 International squad will replace left-arm strike bowler Trent Boult, who will be on paternity leave after the Test and ODI series.
Fast bowler Adam Milne returns to the T20I squad, while Tim Seifert, Mark Chapman and Lockie Ferguson will represent the ‘A’ side in the T20s before moving to the T20 International squad to face Pakistan.
Tom Blundell was named as the back-up wicket-keeping option in the Test squad for BJ Watling, who has been named in the ODI squad. Watling last played an ODI in October 2016 but is said to be in the plans for next year’s World Cup.
Test: Kane Williamson (captain), Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, B.J. Watling, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Ish Sodhi, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.
ODI: Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Taylor, Nicholls, Latham, Watling, de Grandhomme, Astle, Sodhi, Southee, Henry, Boult (two to be added from NZ ‘A’/NZ T20 squads).
T20: Williamson (captain), Mark Chapman, de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Guptill, Adam Milne, Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Sodhi, Southee, Taylor (two to be added from NZ ‘A’ squad).
NZ ‘A’ (for T20, 50-over and first-class matches against Pakistan ‘A’): Corey Anderson, Astle, Blundell, Tom Bruce, Chapman, Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Patel, Glenn Phillips, Raval, Rachin Ravindra, Seifert, Blair Tickner, Logan van Beek, George Worker, Will Young, Wagner, Watling.
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018