New Zealand put in a sparkling performance in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Led admirably by Kane Williamson and showing grit, fight and fortitude in batting, bowling and fielding, New Zealand reached the final against England in Lord's. In what turned out to be one of the best ODIs in the modern era, the game was tied in regulation time and the match went to the super over. However, the super over also turned out to be a tie and England were declared world champions for the first time due to a superior boundary count. After the brilliant performance in the ODIs, New Zealand has now turned their attention to the upcoming World Test Championship which will begin next month.
In what is a rather surprising move, New Zealand has included four spinners in the side for the upcoming two-Test series against Sri Lanka which will begin in August. Ajaz Patel, William Somerville, Todd Astle and Mitchell Santner are the four spinners included in the side. The inclusion of the four spinners means there is no place for the likes of Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson, who had impressive World Cup campaigns. Speaking about the inclusion of the four spinners, coach Gary Stead remarked it was a case of horses for courses while determining the team composition.
"Playing three spinners is an option in Sri Lankan conditions and we believe this group provides the best variations and skill mix on offer. It's good timing for us after the World Cup. It was an incredible time for the team and the country, but we're now excited to move forward as a group and sink our teeth into another opportunity," Stead remarked.
The long-awaited Test championship will see nine nations vying for points in the home and away series in a bid to reach a deciding match at Lord's on June 2021. New Zealand will play 14 Tests against six nations as part of the competition. The championship gets underway with the first match played between England and Australia in the Ashes in Edgbaston on August 1. India and West Indies will also play two Tests as part of the World Test Championship followed by New Zealand's series against Sri Lanka.
New Zealand and Sri Lanka open their World Test Championship campaign with the first Test at the Galle International Stadium on August 14 and the second Test will be played on August 22 at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. Sri Lanka is currently playing a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh and has taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
New Zealand Test squad for Sri Lanka Tests: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle, Tim Southee, Will Somerville, Neil Wagner, Ajaz Patel, Trent Boult