New Zealand vs Sri Lanka: NZC announces the 13-man squad for the first Test

The hosts have included only one spinner in the squad.


New Zealand
New Zealand team. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

New Zealand, on Monday, announced their 13-man squad for the first of the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka. The Black Caps, however, sprung a huge surprise by leaving out William Somerville despite his impressive seven-wicket haul on his Test debut against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last week.

Somerville was a late addition to the Test squad when legspinner Todd Astle was ruled out with injury. He could not make it to the playing eleven for the first two Tests as New Zealand preferred Ish Sodhi. However, when he finally got a chance in the third, he made sure to make the team-management realise how wrong they were to bench him. The lanky off-spinner went on to claim the fourth-best figures by a New Zealand bowler on debut – 7 for 127.


But with pitches in the Kiwi country not very spinner friendly, New Zealand included just one spinner, going for Ajaz Patel over Somerville. Patel, who too had made his debut in the Pakistan series, was one of their most standout bowlers in UAE. In his very first Test, he picked up 7 for 123 and finished the series with an impressive 13 wickets.

Will Young got a maiden call-up

“Ajaz certainly grabbed his opportunity on the UAE tour and he’s a proven performer in New Zealand conditions,” said selector Gavin Larsen. “Will Somerville was an obvious stand-out on debut in the Abu Dhabi decider and it’s great to know we’ve got quality spin bowlers who can create competition for places.

New Zealand also included Will Young as a batting backup after the Central Stags batsman’s impressive show in the ongoing ‘A’ series against India. Young scored a century in Sunday’s 50-over clash in Mount Maunganui and replaces keeper-batsman Tom Blundell.

“It’s an exciting time for Will Young who has been pushing for higher honours for a while now. He scored hundreds against Pakistan A and India A in recent months and fully deserves his call-up,” said Larsen.

The Black Caps will look to build on their impressive showing in UAE when they host Sri Lanka at home. New Zealand will play the island nation in two Tests, three ODIs and a T20I. The Test series gets underway on December 15 in Wellington.  Christchurch will host the second Test before both the teams take on each other in three ODIs. The tour will conclude with the one-off T20I on January 11.

New Zealand Test squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Will Young.

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~Written by Bijoy