Ajaz Patel included in New Zealand’s Test squad against Pakistan

Ajaz Patel was the leading wicket-taker for the past three years in New Zealand's domestic tournament, Plunket Shield. At 29, he receives his maiden international call.

Indian-born finger-spinner Ajaz Patel on Wednesday received his maiden call in New Zealand’s 15-man Test squad to face Pakistan in the three-match series in the United Arab Emirates in October. The 29-year old, who has been the leading wicket-taker in New Zealand’s domestic tournament Plunket Shield, was selected in place of Mitchell Santner who is still recovering from the knee surgery.

Speaking about the choice, Chief selector Gavin Larsen said, “Ajaz has deserved his inclusion on the sheer weight of his domestic first-class form over the past couple of summers. “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.”

Patel, who was born in Mumbai, and shifted to New Zealand as a child, was named as the domestic player of the year in 2017. In the previous season, the bowler took 48 wickets at an average of 21.52 for Central Stags. He will be the third wrist-spinner in the squad other than Todd Astle and Ish Sodhi.

Meanwhile, New Zealand also included Tom Blundell, as the second-choice wicketkeeper option, apart from BJ Watling.

The two teams are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is between October and December 2018. The dates of the fixtures are yet to be announced.

New Zealand Test Squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.

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