Cricket: Blackcaps tease potential Ben Lister debut as focus shifts to India Twenty20 series

Left-arm fast bowler Ben Lister could be in line for an international debut as early as Saturday morning (NZ time), when the Blackcaps begin their three-match Twenty20 International series against India.

To fill the void left by Trent Boult, who was released from his New Zealand Cricket central contract last year, 27-year-old Lister has been called into the side for the first time for this series.

In T20 cricket, Lister has been a regular performer for Auckland, taking 43 wickets in 41 games at an average of 26.20.

Ben Lister.
Ben Lister. Photo credit: Photosport

This season, Lister has taken eight wickets in five matches for the Aces, as Auckland's joint-leading wicket taker.

Lister's arrival into the New Zealand squad comes at a time where the Kiwi bowling stocks appear to be at their barest.

Missing senior names like Boult, Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson, the Kiwi quicks were put to the sword in a 3-0 defeat in the ODI series against India.

And while acting captain Mitchell Santner wouldn't confirm if Lister would debut against India, the Henderson product's presence in the squad has caught the eye.

"I think we'll have a look at the pitch tomorrow, and make a decision from there," said Santner. "We've seen a lot of Lister over the last couple of years. 

"He's grown tremendously as a bowler. The left-arm angle, being able to swing the ball away from the right-hander is something new and something different.

"He's obviously been bowling pretty good wheels as well. It's nice to have a balance of different options in the squad - guys that bowl fast, guys that swing it away, left-armer.

Lister's selection would also give the Blackcaps' attack variety not seen since Boult's departure.

Aside from Santner, who bowls spin, the Blackcaps' attack has lacked a left-armer - a void Lister could fill in preparation for the 2023 World Cup in India.

"We've seen how good left-armers can be," Santner continued.  

"[We've seen] Trent Boult for a long time do his thing, we've seen Arshdeep [Singh] do the same - come onto the scene and swing the ball both ways, challenge a lot of batters.

"If he's lucky enough to get a run this series, it'll be very interesting.

"Hopefully he can swing it both ways."