Blackcaps v India: Hamish Bennett never gave up on NZ recall for T20 series

Wellington Firebirds bowler Hamish Bennett always believed he'd get another chance with the Blackcaps, despite his almost three-year absence from the national team. 

Bennett has been included in the14-strong T20 squad for a five-match series against India, which begins at Eden Park in Auckland next Friday.

If Bennett plays, he'll make his 20-over debut for the Blackcaps, after previously playing one test (2010) and 16 one-dayers (2010-17) for his country. 

His 'Super Smash' form with the Firebirds has forced his selection. The right-arm medium pacer is currently joint-third highest wicket-taker in this season's domestic T20 competition, with 14 wickets at an average of 18.42 runs and an economy rate of 7.06 runs an over.

While the 32-year-old has been unwanted for nearly three years, he never gave up on his dream of representing New Zealand again.

"You're always aspiring to play for your country," explained Bennett. "Anyone who plays first-class cricket or any kid playing high school cricket, you always want to play for New Zealand. 

"All those tough mornings you don't want to get out of bed, it's at the back of your mind.

"I've been lucky enough to play for New Zealand and before I retire, I wanted one more crack, so here's hoping this is the one crack that I can make the most of it. 

"I love playing cricket. If I played again, I'd obviously be excited, but If I didn't, at least I would have given it a chance. 

"You never write anything off." 

Bennett credits a successful move from Canterbury to Wellington for his success, along with wisdom and experience gained over the years. 

"I moved associations to freshen things up. I've really enjoyed my time in Wellington with the group we've got here.

"Getting this call-up is a nice surprise. I'm happy for it, but if it didn't happen, then as long as I finished knowing I tried my best chance, I'd be happy with that. 

"I'm older and wiser now, and I've got that inner belief you get when you're an old boy. It's going to be a great challenge playing India, especially on some of these smaller grounds, but you have to embrace it. 

"Over the years I've felt I've done well in domestic cricket. I was hoping I would get a chance - I was really happy, but it wasn't earth-shattering news." 

But Bennett has one more challenge on his hands before a possible T20 debut for New Zealand, with Wellington hosting the Super Smash final on Sunday. 

The Firebirds will face either the Otago Volts or Auckland Aces in the decider, searching for their third domestic T20 title. 

The unbeaten Wellington Blaze are also favourites in the women's final and will face the Auckland Hearts or Otago Sparks before Bennett's Firebirds take to the field. 

"To have a doubleheader home final is unbelievable, and my challenge to the Wellington cricket public is to come down and watch.

"It would be great to see the Basin Reverse full. The Blaze are probably the best domestic side in the world right now, so hopefully both teams can get their hands on the title."

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