The Blackcaps have included five spinners in their 15-man squad for the upcoming tour to India, while fast bowler Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme have opted out of the two-test series, due to the prospect of further time in quarantine.
The selectors picked the experienced spin trio of Ajaz Patel, Will Somerville and Mitchell Santner, as well as potential test debutant Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips, as they look to take advantage of the slower conditions expected on the sub-continent.
"Touring India is one of the greatest experiences in cricket," says coach Gary Stead. "It's fair to say we're expecting spin-friendly conditions and it's great to have a range of options in this department."
Stead points out Boult has already spent about 60 days in managed isolation this year, while de Grandhomme has been on the road since May.
"From talking to both players, it was clear the best option for them was to be left out of this test tour and for them to instead focus on being ready for the NZ home summer," says Stead.
The tour marks the first time Phillips has been selected in the test squad, since debuting against Australia as a late replacement in 2020, when the Blackcaps camp was struck by illness on the eve of the New Year's test in Sydney.
In September, Ravindra, 21, made his Blackcaps debut in a Twenty20 international against Bangladesh and although he toured England with the test side earlier this year, he has yet to appear in the longest form of the game.
The series will also be the first since the retirement of wicketkeeping stalwart BJ Watling in June, with Tom Blundell taking over the the test gloves.
The first test will be played at Kanpur from November 25, with Mumbai hosting the second from December 3.
The two sides contested the World Test Championship final in June, which the Kiwis won by eight wickets.
"It's really exciting to begin the second instalment of the WTC and we know there’ll be an extra incentive for all the teams we play, following our win in the inaugural competition," Stead adds.
Blackcaps squad to play India: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Will Young, Neil Wagner
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