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Indian-born Jeet Raval called up to New Zealand Test squad for Africa tour

New Zealand squad named for Tests against Zimbabwe and South Africa

Jeet Raval in Auckland Aces colours

New Zealand selectors have handed a call-up to highly rated opener Jeet Raval while naming the squad for the tour of Africa starting next month. The 27-year-old Raval, born in Gujarat and moved to New Zealand in 2004, has Indian connections from childhood that stretch to some current Indian international players.

The tour will include two tests in Harare and then two matches against South Africa at King's Park in Durban and then at Centurion. The team will spend eight days in South Africa before the first test against Zimbabwe starts on July 29 in Harare. The second test is at the same Harare Sports Club from Aug. 6. Kane Williamson's side then play South Africa at Kingsmead in Durban from Aug. 19 before ending the tour with the second test in Centurion from Aug. 27.

The left-handed opener has a first-class career average of 43.85, while last season he averaged 55.71, making three centuries and helping Auckland to the Plunket Shield title. He is known as the ‘Rahul Dravid’ of his team in Kiwi domestic cricket for his ‘rock’-style of batting, but confesses to idolise Sourav Ganguly.

Born in Gujarat, Raval had climbed the ranks in cricket in his country of birth, even going on to represent Gujarat in U-15 and U-17 levels. He has said that he has extensively played with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma and Piyush Chawla. He stays in touch with Gujarat players like Manprit Juneja and Ishwar Chaudhary, he calls Parthiv Patel a good friend.

He had moved to New Zealand as a 16-year-old, working at petrol pumps in the first few days, but slowly realising his dream of playing cricket at the highest level. He has been knocking on the doors of selection to the Black Caps team for about a year.

"Jeet has been impressive in the Plunket Shield for a number of years now and in the past 12 months we've seen his maturity and decision-making continue to improve," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said in a statement.

"He's learnt to adapt to conditions and has performed well for New Zealand A, so we believe he's more than ready to make the step up to the international arena."

With low and slow turn expected on Zimbabwean pitches, legspinner Ish Sodhi has been added to join slow bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner and offspinner Mark Craig in the squad. Five front-line pace bowlers have been selected for the quicker wickets in South Africa.

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.

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