New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has recovered from injury and is available to lead the side as the Kiwis named their 15-man squad for the much-anticipated World Test Championship final against India on June 18, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Williamson missed the second Test against England due to an elbow injury. But his absence didn't bother New Zealand, who went on to secure an easy eight-wicket win and subsequently clinched the series 1-0. Wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who too had sat out of the second Test against England, was named in the squad. "Kane and BJ have certainly benefitted from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final," said New Zealand head coach Gary Stead during a press conference. Sports News | India Will Emerge Champions in WTC Final: Australia Test Skipper Paine
"Playing in a World Cup Final is a really special occasion and I know the guys are looking forward to getting into their work here in Southampton," the 49-year old added. Tom Blundell was added to the side as backup wicketkeeper and all-rounder Colin De Grandhomme was also picked. Stead praised the seasoned all-rounder and also spinner Ajaz Patel, who did well against England recently.
Watch Gary Stead's press conference
"We've gone with Ajaz as our specialist spinner after an impressive outing at Edgbaston and we believe he could be a factor at the Ageas Bowl," he said, adding"Colin's been an integral member of our Test set-up for many years and it was great to see him return at Lord’s after a long injury lay-off. He's a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon."
A notable exclusion from the side was that of all-rounder Mitchell Santner. Santner was left out of the squad along with Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra.
"It's not easy to say goodbye to guys who have given so much to the group. Doug, Jacob and Rachin have been selfless in their attitude to helping the team and supporting those in the playing XI. With our squad being reduced, Heinrich and our second physio Vijay Vallabh will return home to New Zealand on June 16, along with Jacob, Rachin and Mitchell. We wish them well and thank them for their efforts. There's had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side," he said.
On opponents, India, Stead said that Virat Kohli and co would be tough to beat as they possess many match-winners.
"India are a world class outfit who possess match winners all through their line-up, so we're under no illusion about how tough they will be to beat," Stead said.
New Zealand squad for World Test Championship final against India:
Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Will Young
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 15, 2021 11:16 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).