Ajaz Patel, the Central Stags left-arm spinner, has been named in the New Zealand Test side for the series against Pakistan in the UAE later this year, Cricbuzz informs.
Patel’s call-up comes after he was named Domestic Player of the Year last season, having been the highest wicket-taker in the Plunket Shield in the last three seasons. The 29-year-old picked up 48 wickets from nine games at an impressive average of 21.52 and played a key role in Stags winning the title.
With Mitchell Santner still recovering from his knee injury, Patel is likely to make his Test debut in the spin-friendly conditions in UAE. “Ajaz has deserved his inclusion on the sheer weight of his domestic first-class form over the past couple of summers,” New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said on Wednesday (July 25). “With Mitch Santner not fully recovered yet from his knee surgery, it’s nice to have both wrist (Astle and Sodhi) and finger (Patel) spin options, given the likely conditions in the UAE.”
Tom Blundell too found a spot in the 15-man squad as the back-up wicketkeeper for BJ Watling. The latter has also been named in the 15-member ODI squad. Watling last played an ODI in December 2016 against Australia at the MCG and has featured in only Tests since then for New Zealand. While 13 members have been named, the two remaining players will be picked after considering their performances for New Zealand A in UAE. The same will be the case with the T20 squad.
Kyle Jamieson, Blair Tickner and Rachin Ravindra, who represented New Zealand Under-19 in the World Cup earlier this year, will have a chance to push for a selection in the ODI squad while the selectors have decided to rest Trent Boult for the T20I series. Tim Seifert, Mark Chapman and Lockie Ferguson will warm-up for the 20-over format while featuring for New Zealand A ahead of the series.
“This is a great opportunity for us to expose our emerging players to foreign conditions and help develop and expand their games,” Larson said. “Given India A will also be visiting New Zealand over the summer, there is a lot to play for.”
The dates for the series haven’t been decided yet but New Zealand A will travel to UAE mid-October.
New Zealand will play three Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is during the tour.