Martin Guptill returns for Pakistan ODIs

F.P. Report

HOMILTON: Martin Guptill returns from injury while the spin duo of Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle were retained in New Zealand’s 13-man squad for the first two ODIs against Pakistan.

Guptill missed New Zealand’s 3-0 rout of West Indies last month with a hamstring injury. However, he has regained fitness and is currently part of the national team for the ongoing T20I series against West Indies. Guptill’s inclusion means George Worker, who made two half-centuries in his last three ODIs as an opener, has been left out.

“It’s tough on George missing out, but he’ll continue to push for selection and will get further opportunities down the road,” said Gavin Larsen, the national selector. “Martin is a proven world-class player, so we’re naturally thrilled to have him back in the mix. He and Colin (Munro) have been strong for us at the top of the order.”

New Zealand will also be without Colin de Grandhomme, the allrounder, who missed the West Indies series and returned to Harare after his father’s death. He has since returned to New Zealand and will play for Auckland and is likely to return for the last three ODIs.

Meanwhile, contributions with both bat and ball, Larsen reasoned, influenced the selectors in picking two spinners. Astle, who made his ODI debut against West Indies, picked up four wickets in three matches along with a career-best 49 from No. 7 in a match-turning partnership. “Todd made the most of his opportunity against the West Indies and made a strong contribution with both bat and ball,” said Larsen.

“Mitchell has been one of our most consistent white-ball bowlers for a long time now, as can be seen by him being ranked in the top 10 ODI bowlers in the world. Conditions will dictate whether they play in the same eleven, but it’s certainly not out of the question.” The five-match series that starts in Wellington on January 9 will be followed by three T20Is.

New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptil, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.