Ajaz Patel, the Central Stags left-arm spinner, was named in the New Zealand Test side on Wednesday for the series against Pakistan in UAE later this year. The 29-year-old Indian-born spinner was called as a replacement for Micthell Santner who is still recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss the Indian Premier League. Patel is likely to make his Test debut in the spin-friendly conditions in UAE. “Ajaz has deserved his inclusion on the sheer weight of his domestic first-class form over the past couple of summers,” New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen said.
He has been called to the national side after being named Domestic Player of the Year last season. He has finished as the leading wicket taker in the Plunket Shield in the last three seasons. Patel had picked 48 wickets in nine games this season at an impressive average of 21.52 and played a key role in Stags winning the title.
If selected in the playing XI, Patel who was born in Mumbai will become New Zealand’s fifth Indian-born Test cricketer after Ted Badcock, Tom Puna, Ish Sodhi and Jeet Raval.
Tom Blundell was also selected in the 15-man squad as the back-up wicketkeeper for BJ Watling. The latter was also named in the ODI squad despite playing his last 50-over international in December 2016 against Australia at the MCG.
The selectors have interestingly named only 13 players and the two remaining players will be picked after considering their performances for New Zealand A in UAE. “This is a great opportunity for us to expose our emerging players to foreign conditions and help develop and expand their games,” Larson said. “Given India A will also be visiting New Zealand over the summer, there is a lot to play for.”
New Zealand will play three Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is during the tour.
Test squad: Kane Williamson (c), 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
ODI squad: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, two players to be added from NZA/BC T20 Squads.
T20 squad: Kane Williamson (c), Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, two players to be added from NZ A.