New Zealand have called allrounder James Neesham and offspinner Jeetan Patel to the squad for the first Test against South Africa to be played in Dunedin.
The hosts have dropped Matt Henry and Dean Brownlie from the squad picked for Bangladesh series. The experienced Patel had made his Test comeback after a gap of almost four years against India last year.
The off-spinner was picked ahead of the young legspinner Ish Sodhi. While speaking about the selection, selector Gavin Larsen said, “Jeetan brings the ability to spin the ball away from the left-handers, which complements our other spinner in Mitchell Santner nicely. He brings a huge amount of experience to the team and gives us the balance of having two front-line spin options.”
With the pitches in New Zealand conducive to seamers, it is highly unlikely that the hosts will play two spinners, the other one being Mitchell Santner. Jeetan Patel’s Test record isn’t a good one having picked up just 58 wickets in 21 Tests. His bowling average sits at 48.48.
Neil Wagner is also back after recovering from his finger injury which he sustained last month. The left-arm seamer had a good Bangladesh series having picked up 10 wickets in two Test matches.
Since early 2016, Wagner has been New Zealand’s leading Test wicket-taker with 51 scalps at 22.33. “Having Neil back and available is fantastic news for us. Neil’s been our leading wicket-taker in recent times and is a key player for us,” Larsen said. “He’s worked extremely hard to get himself ready for the series and we expect him to be fit and ready to go come the first Test.”
Jimmy Neesham has got a place in the squad especially since Corey Anderson is out with injury. Neesham will fight for a spot with Colin de Grandhomme who claimed six wickets on debut against Pakistan.
Since his heroics against them, Grandhomme has since taken just four wickets in six innings. New Zealand have lost the hard fought 5-match ODI series against South Africa.
New Zealand squad:
Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Jeetan Patel, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling