New Zealand selection panel announced a 14-member squad to take on India in the upcoming five-match T20I series beginning January 24th. In a surprise call-up, pacer Hamish Bennett benefited from his impressive performances in the ongoing Super Smash T20 League where he has taken 14 wickets at an average of 7.06 in 10 matches. Kane Williamson will be back captaining the side after a hip injury ruled him out of the T20I series against England.
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According to New Zealand chief selector Gavin Larsen, Bennett was called keeping in mind the injury crisis that the national side is undergoing currently. Bennett has played 16 ODIs and one Test match for New Zealand. Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry (thumb injury), Doug Bracewell (knee injury), Will Young (shoulder injury), Adam Milne (ankle injury), Tom Latham (finger injury), and Seth Rance (Achilles tendon) will all miss the series. Larsen praised Bennett's all-round bowling prowess and explained how he could be an important cog against the touring Indians.
"We're delighted to have Hamish back in the fold for what will be a huge series against India."
"Over the past few seasons he's consistently been one of the top domestic white-ball bowlers and we've been impressed how he's been able to evolve his game... We all know he brings good pace and bounce but it's the clever variations he's added that make him such a well-rounded T20 bowler."
Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner will form the spin-bowling duet whereas Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, and Scott Kuggeleijn will combine with Hamish Bennett to complete the fast-bowling department. New Zealand A captain Tom Bruce will join the squad for the last two T20Is, replacing Colin de Grandhomme while Jimmy Neesham failed to make it to the squad and will play the series against India A.
"We see both Daryl and Jimmy as important all-rounders in the T20 format. With a travelling squad of just 13 and the need to balance the options for the series, Daryl gets this opportunity against India as a reward for his consistent form for the Black Caps."
Larsen said that the senior side had huge assignments coming up but their main focus will be to concentrate on the T20 WC in Australia later this year.
"The next few weeks will be really intense for our elite male cricketers and we're fully aware of the challenges ahead. We're clearly wanting to win the series in front of us while also considering our wider T20 World Cup campaign plan."
New Zealand T20I Squad
Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, Tom Bruce (matches 4-5) Colin de Grandhomme (matches 1-3)