New Zealand's Rachin Ravindra [Source: Reuters]
Rachin Ravindra, who was this week named ICC Emerging Player of the Year for his World Cup heroics, was included on Friday in New Zealand’s test squad for next month’s two-match series against South Africa.
The 24-year-old all-rounder played the last of his three tests in January 2022 but was preferred to Henry Nicholls for the series against a severely weakened Proteas team, which starts at Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval next week.
Glenn Phillips looks likely to bat in the middle order with Ravindra in his first home test after returning to the longest format for the series in Bangladesh late last year.
Apart from Nicholls, Ajaz Patel and Ish Sodhi are the other notable absentees, with left-armer Mitch Santner, who last played a test on home soil in 2020, the only specialist spinner in the 13-man squad.
Uncapped pace bowler Will O’Rourke will join the Tim Southee-led squad for the second test at Hamilton’s Seddon Park from Feb. 13.
Former captain Kane Williamson, batsman Tom Blundell and quick Kyle Jamieson, who all have hamstring issues, were selected despite doubts over their fitness.
New Zealand have never beaten South Africa in a test series and will rarely have had a better chance after the Proteas named a weakened squad featuring eight uncapped players.
The series will clash with Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) domestic Twenty20 competition, which is seen as vital to the future financial health of the organisation.
New Zealand squad: Tim Southee (captain), Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Will O’Rourke (Hamilton test only), Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.