New Zealands BJ Watling and captain Kane Williamson were declared fit for the WTC final against India
New Zealand on Tuesday announced their 15-man squad for the World Test Championship final (WTC) against India starting on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Captain Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling were both cleared for the WTC final.
Both Williamson and Watling had missed the second Test against England at Edgbaston due to injuries. Williamson was ruled out due to an elbow injury while Watling, who is set to retire after the WTC final against India, was sidelined by a back injury.
"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," Stead said at a press conference after the teams arrival at Southampton.
Tom Blundell, who had played the Edgbaston Test, which New Zealand won, has been kept in the WTC squad as a cover for Watling.
"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," he added.
Stead said their victory over England notwithstanding, it is going to be a tough challenge facing India.
"India are a world-class outfit who possess match winners all through their line-up, so were under no illusion about how tough they will be to beat," he said.
New Zealand will go into the clash with one specialist spinner in 32-year-old left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme.
Will Young is their specialist batting cover, while Tom Blundell is the back-up wicket-keeper.
"Weve 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," Stead said.
"Colins 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.
"Hes a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon."
New Zealand have left out five players from their 20-man squad, including Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra, and Mitchell Santner.
"Its not easy to say goodbye to guys who have given so much to the group. Doug, Jacob, and Rachin have been selfless in their attitude to helping the team and supporting those in the playing XI.
"With our squad being reduced, Heinrich and our second physio Vijay Vallabh will return home to New Zealand on June 16, along with Jacob, Rachin, and Mitchell. We wish them well and thank them for their efforts," said Stead.
"Theres had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side," he added.
New Zealand WTC final squad: 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, and Will Young.
Also Read: India squad for WTC final announced.