Photo Credit: ICC
Pace-bowler Matt Henry has been called into the BLACKCAPS T20 squad to face Pakistan, two months after being ruled out of the ICC Cricket World Cup in India with a hamstring injury.
Henry is set to make his return to the field on Friday, when his Canterbury Kings side squares off against the Central Stags in a Dream11 Super Smash contest at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
The 32-year-old will then join a BLACKCAPS squad of 13 in Auckland next week ahead of Friday night’s opening KFC T20I at Eden Park, the first of the five-game series against Pakistan.
Captain Kane Williamson and opening batter Devon Conway also return for the series after periods of rest following their return from the Bangladesh Test tour.
Williamson will miss the third T20I of the series (in Dunedin) as he continues to manage his knee injury, with the uncapped Josh Clarkson called in as cover for the match and Mitchell Santner set to stand in as skipper.
Rachin Ravindra wasn’t considered as a replacement for Williamson in the third game, as he begins a period of rest after being on the road with the BLACKCAPS since the beginning of August, a decision made by NZC in conjunction with Cricket Wellington.
Pace-bowler Lockie Ferguson is set to make his BLACKCAPS return following an achilles injury which has sidelined him since the One Day World Cup.
Ferguson is scheduled to return to action via the Auckland Aces, for whom he will play three Dream11 Super Smash games over the next two weeks before joining the BLACKCAPS squad for the final three games of the T20I series.
His absence means 25-year-old fast-bowler Ben Sears has been included for the opening two games of the Pakistan series, continuing his run in the T20I side after impressing in the recent series against Bangladesh.
BLACKCAPS T20 squad for Pakistan
Kane Williamson (c) (games 1,2,4 & 5)
Josh Clarkson (game 3 only)
Devon Conway (wk)
Lockie Ferguson (games 3,4 & 5)
Ben Sears (games 1 & 2)
Tim Seifert (wk)
Kyle Jamieson wasn’t considered for the T20I series as he continues to rehabilitate a hamstring injury, while Trent Boult (UAE) and Jimmy Neesham (South Africa) were unavailable due to overseas T20 league commitments.
Michael Bracewell was also not considered for selection as he continues his recovery from an achilles injury, with his return to play likely to be via the Wellington Firebirds in the Super Smash this month.
BLACKCAPS coach Gary Stead said the Pakistan series was important for a variety of reasons.
“It’s great to be welcoming back Matt, Devon, Lockie and Kane,” he said.
“They’re four quality players in their own right and their skills and experience will bolster our side.
“Starting the series off at Eden Park on a Friday night will be a great occasion and one I know the team will relish.
“With just three T20I series left before the T20 World Cup, all matches are vitally important for our preparation.”
Stead highlighted Ravindra’s omission as he begins a period of rest following five months of continual touring with the side.
“Rachin’s a young player who has immense value to New Zealand Cricket and we therefore want to look after his wellbeing.
“He’s the only player or staff member to have been touring non-stop for the past five months across five countries and that’s simply not sustainable.
“He’s still very much part of our thinking for the T20 World Cup in June and will come back into the reckoning for the T20 series against Australia in February.”
The BLACKCAPS T20I squad for Pakistan assembles in Auckland on Wednesday January 9.
BLACKCAPS v Pakistan T20Is
1st KFC T20I – Fri, Jan 12, Eden Park
2nd KFC T20I – Sun, Jan 14, Seddon Park
3rd KFC T20I – Wed, Jan 17, University Oval
4th KFC T20I – Fri, Jan 19, Hagley Oval
5th KFC T20I – Sun, Jan 21, Hagley Oval