On Tuesday, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced that Ajaz Patel and Devon Conway made the 15-man cut for the World Test Championship final against India. Meanwhile, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner were dropped from the squad.
Having played the first Test, the opportunity was right in front of the spin all-rounder Mitchell Santner to grab. However, his lacklustre performance, both with the bat and the ball has tipped the selection in favour of Ajaz Patel, who impressed the selectors with his performance in the Edgbaston Test against England. As expected, Devon Conway has made the cut and would be in line to make his third Test appearance against India, later this week, in the final.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling also make a return to the squad, after missing out on the second Test, with an injury scare. Colin de Grandhomme also makes the cut, ahead of fellow all-rounder Daryl Mitchell. Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy and Rachin Ravindra too miss out on a place in the final squad.
"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. 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,” said head coach Gary Stead.
"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. 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,” he added.
The likes of Will Young and Matt Henry, who impressed the selectors during the second Test against England retain their place in the final squad, on the back of their performances, as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson make their return to the squad after a one-match rest.
"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. 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."
WTC Final squad for NZ: 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