Ravindra set for new role as New Zealand name Test squad against South Africa

Rachin Ravindra is set to play his first Test at home since 2022 after being selected in the New Zealand Test squad as middle-order batter for the two-match series against South Africa, starting on February 4.

Rachin Ravindra is set to play his first Test at home since 2022 after being selected in the New Zealand Test squad as middle-order batter for the two-match series against South Africa, starting on February 4.

“Hard on the heels of winning the ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year award, Ravindra has been named in the BlackCaps squad for the two-match Test series against the Proteas, starting next week at Tauranga’s Bay Oval.

“Having been brought into the line-up for Henry Nicholls, the 24-year-old is set to bat in the middle order for the first time in his Test career, with Will Young providing batting cover,” New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said.

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Ravindra had previously made his Test debut in 2021-22 against India at Kanpur, adding another cap at Mumbai before returning to New Zealand to play in that summer’s opening Test against Bangladesh.

He will be joined by Glenn Phillips, who is line to play his first Test on home soil after making his debut against Australia in 2019-20 and playing in both Tests on the early season tour to Bangladesh.

Pace bowler Will O’Rourke will be joining the squad for the second match at Hamilton’s Seddon Park and could be in line for his Test debut following his selection in the New Zealand A side for the four-day Tests against Australia A, and his recent ODI debut.

Allrounder Mitch Santner also retained his place in the squad following on from strong contributions with ball and bat in Bangladesh.

Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi are the other members of the Bangladesh touring squad not included, with the selection group seeking a different balance for the conditions expected.

Head Coach Gary Stead said the squad was a challenging one to pick, with a number of players putting their hands up, and conditions to consider.

“It was pleasing as a selector to see different players making contributions during the recent series in Bangladesh. Glenn and Mitch both earned selection on the back of their recent work in red ball cricket. They continue to work on their games to contribute across formats and situations,” he said.

He acknowledged that some tough calls had to be made, including leaving out Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi. “All three players have made strong contributions to Test-winning performances over the past 14 months. But we believe we’ve struck a good balance between experience, and providing opportunities for newer players,” he said.

Stead noted that, while several players in the squad had missed cricket recently due to injury, all were tracking positively for the series opener. “Tom Blundell, Kyle Jamieson and Kane Williamson are all at slightly different points in their rehabilitation plans. But we’re confident they’ll be good to go at Bay Oval,” said Stead.

Tim Southee, Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Will O’Rourke (second Test only), Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young

The squad assembles in Tauranga on February 1 ahead of the first Test at Bay Oval starting on February 4.

Series schedule:

February 4-8, First Test, Tauranga

February 13-17, Second Test, Hamilton

New Zealand squad: Tim Southee, Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Will O’Rourke (second Test only), Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young

(IANS)