Auckland : New Zealand selectors have brought back leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and Glenn Phillips and also picked uncapped Blair Tickner to the Test squad for the upcoming tour of Pakistan. The 30-year-old Sodhi returns to the squad four years on from his last international outing in whites while the South Africa-born Phillips played his only Test in January 2020 against Australia in Sydney.
Both of them along with Tickner have been included in the 15-member New Zealand Test squad that will play two Test matches in Pakistan the first of which starts in Karachi on December 26.
The tour will be Tim Southee’s first as Test captain after Kane Williamson earlier on Thursday announced he was stepping down as skipper in the longest format. Sodhi has played 125 white-ball games for the Black Caps and been a mainstay in the T20 side – recently becoming just the fifth male player in the world to claim 100 T20I wickets.
Despite not being able to play a lot of red-ball cricket of late, Sodhi has a strong first-class record featuring 279 wickets at an average of 33, with 16 five-wicket bags and two ten-wicket hauls, the New Zealand Cricket said in a release on Thursday.
Like Sodhi, the 26-year-old Phillips has made his name in the T20I format, racking up 56 international caps and a current ICC T20I batting ranking of seven. He will partner the 10-wickets-in-an-innings fame, Ajaz Patel, as the second spinner on the Pakistan tour.
Tickner featured in the Black Caps’ Test squads for the series against South Africa at the end of the home summer and away to England in the winter, but is yet to debut, after playing 20 white-ball internationals.
Coach Gary Stead congratulated the trio on their inclusion in the squad. “It’s always an exciting time for a player to be selected in a Test squad and even more so when you’ve been away for an extended period of time,” Stead said.
“I know all three of the guys have a real passion for the longest form of the game and are looking forward to getting into their red-ball work at the pre-tour camp in Lincoln this week.” Stead acknowledged that Sodhi had not been able to play a lot of red-ball cricket recently due to the demands of the international white-ball schedule, but said he had the faith of the selectors.
“Ish has been playing international cricket for almost a decade now and we’re backing his skills and experience. Looking at the current conditions and style of play in the Pakistan and England Test series, we feel having a wrist-spinner in the team will be important,” he added.
New Zealand will go into the series without senior pacers Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson. While Boult made himself unavailable for the tour, Jamieson remains unavailable for selection as he continues his recovery from a back injury.
New Zealand Test squad for Pakistan:
Tim Southee (c), Michael Bracewell, Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner,
Kane Williamson, Will Young.