New Zealand have finalised their 15-man squad that will take on India in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship from Friday in Southampton. Five players including Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner have been cut from the original 20-man squad for the tour that was part of the two-match series against England.
There’s no major surprise in the pruned squad with Colin de Grandhomme fitting in as the sole allrounder while Will Young as the batting cover and Tom Blundell, who replaced injured BJ Watling in the second Test, continues to be his back-up.
New Zealand have also preferred Ajaz Patel over Mitchell Santner as the specialist spinner. Patel took four wickets across the two Tests against England as the tourists went on to clinch the series 1-0.
“It’s not easy to say goodbye to guys who have given so much to the group," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said.
Stead explained that Patel’s impressiving outing at Edgbaston worked in his favour. “We’ve gone with Ajaz as our specialist spinner after an impressive outing at Edgbaston and we believe he could be a factor at the Ageas Bowl," Stead said.
“Colin’s been an integral member of our Test set-up for many years and it was great to see him return at Lord’s after a long injury lay-off. He’s a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon," he added.
New Zealand won in the absence of their captain Kane Williamson and the retiring Watling but Stead said the pair has recovered well and should be back for the final starting Friday.
“Kane and BJ have certainly benefited from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final,” Stead said.
Despite their performance against England, Stead said, they are under no illusion of being the favorites for the WTC final against a world-class India.
“Playing in a World Cup Final is a really special occasion and I know the guys are looking forward to getting into their work here in Southampton. India are a world class outfit who possess match winners all through their line-up, so we’re under no illusion about how tough they will be to beat,” Stead said.
New Zealand Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young