New Zealand have dropped veteran batsman Ross Taylor and included Trent Boult and Kane Williamson in their T20I squad for the upcoming three-match series against Pakistan, which will begin on Friday at Eden Park.
“Their inclusion and the return of Kane means we’ve left out Ross Taylor. This was, as you’d imagine, a very tough decision as Ross has been a consistent performer for us, but unfortunately, we just couldn’t find room in the squad for him due to the quality and form of the other batsmen," Selector Gavin Larsen said.
Apart from this, the blazing bats of Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway are once again set to light up the Black Caps T20 top-order.
The duo were involved in a T20I world-record, third-wicket stand of 181 against the West Indies less than a fortnight ago and have been rewarded with selection in a T20 extended squad - which also features the return of Kane Williamson and Trent Boult.
With the T20 series scheduled to start just three days after the current Test in Wellington, Williamson and Boult along with Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Daryl Mitchell will only be available for the second and third games of the series.
Auckland Aces speedster Lockie Ferguson was withdrawn from the squad after scans revealed a bone stress injury of his lumbar spine. More details of his expected rehabilitation time will be known once the results of further imaging are available.
Wellington Firebirds paceman Hamish Bennett was also ruled out of the series with an abdominal tear sustained in round three of the Ford Trophy. He’ll target a return to play in the Super Smash which gets underway on December 24.
Otago Volts pace bowler Jacob Duffy has earned his first call-up to the BLACKCAPS after impressive performances in domestic cricket and for New Zealand A. The 26-year-old’s been selected for the first game and will assemble with the squad in Auckland on December 15.
After having his first game as captain washed out after 2.2 overs, Mitchell Santner will take the skipper’s armband for the series opener at Eden Park, before taking his first break since leaving for the Caribbean Premier League back in August.
His spinning spot will be backed up by leg-spinning incumbent Ish Sodhi and the recalled Todd Astle, whose last T20I came against Sri Lanka in September last year, when he claimed 3-28 in a losing cause in Pallekele.
Blair Tickner, Mark Chapman and Doug Bracewell are included for game one of the series, before making way for the Test players to return.
Selector Larsen said this was one of the more challenging squads he’s had to select.
“A combination of form, injuries and the overlapping of series has certainly added some complexity to this announcement,” he conceded. “I’d like to acknowledge the commitment of the all the players who are having to show a large degree of flexibility and understanding this summer.
“It’s great to have the class of Kane and Trent returning to our T20 side having missed the West Indies series after their starring roles in the IPL in November.
“Kane will return and lead the side for games two and three, but we’ll obviously need to take a wait and see approach in relation to the arrival of his and Sarah’s first child. Mark Chapman’s in the squad for the opening match at Eden Park and is on stand-by for Kane for the remaining games of the series.
“We were thrilled Glenn and Devon were able to take their opportunities so well in the previous series and we’re keen to give them the chance to back that up against a strong Pakistan T20 outfit. “It’s a special time for Jacob who’s taken his game to another level this summer and I know he’s excited to join the BLACKCAPS camp for the first time," Larsen added.
“The injury to Lockie is obviously a concern considering what he brings to our bowling attack and we’re awaiting more information around his rehabilitation.
“We’ve got just these three T20 Internationals remaining this year, before what will be a star-studded Super Smash - where we hope to see all players present their cases for inclusion in the remaining T20I series against Australia and Bangladesh in February and March.”
BLACKCAPS T20 SQUAD GAME 1
Mitchell Santner (c), Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner
BLACKCAPS T20 SQUAD GAMES 2 & 3
Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee