BJ Watling last played an ODI in February 2013 © Getty Images
Colin Munro has been named in New Zealand’s squad for the ODI series against Pakistan. Wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling also finds a place almost three years after he last played an ODI, putting Luke Ronchi’s place in contention.
Injuries to three first-choice players have depleted the squad, however. Ross Taylor is the latest to be ruled out of the series, after retiring hurt with an oblique side strain in the third T20 against Pakistan on Friday. Also missing from the squad is Tim Southee, whose foot injury has ruled him out of the forthcoming one-dayers against Australia as well. Captain Brendon McCullum is currently recovering from the aggravation of a long-standing back complaint, and will only be available for the third ODI. Kane Williamson will lead in the first two games.
Canterbury batsman Henry Nicholls retains his place in the squad after modest returns from his maiden series against Sri Lanka. Tom Latham fills in for McCullum in the first two ODIs. Mitchell Santner is the only major slow-bowling option. The pace battery consists of Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry and Adam Milne.
Munro had not featured in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, but earned his place in the side thanks to two explosive T20 half-centuries at Eden Park – the first having come off 14 balls. He has played 12 ODIs so far, crossing fifty on two occasions. His bowling will supplement New Zealand’s seam-bowling stocks, with Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott also in the squad.
“Colin was impressive with the bat during the recent Twenty20 series, but he’s also selected on his ability to give us another option with the ball,” coach Mike Hesson said.
Anderson is making an ODI return himself, after recovering from the back injury that cut short his mid-year tour to England in 2015. Elliott is in a similar position, having missed the Sri Lanka ODIs to recover from a broken arm.
“With Grant and Corey coming back into the squad, our middle-order has a lot of experience and looks similar to the one we took into last year’s World Cup,” said Hesson.
Ronchi will only be with the squad for the first ODI, before BJ Watling takes over for the next two. Hesson said Ronchi’s exclusion from those games will serve to “give Luke a week off ahead of a busy upcoming schedule”, but his batting form has also been indifferent in the past six months. In sixteen limited-overs innings since June last year, Ronchi has made a high score of 37 not out – though he does bat low in the order, and has limited opportunities to build substantial innings.
Watling, meanwhile, has been rewarded for good Test performances – particularly with the gloves. He last played an ODI in February 2013.
“We’ve talked about the importance of creating depth in all positions and bringing BJ into the side for the second and third ODI will give him some time against the white ball,” Hesson said.
Hesson had earlier suggested the pitches for the Pakistan series may take a little turn, with the World T20 in India in mind, but having selected only one frontline spinner, Hesson does not expect spin to play a major role. “With the pitches we’re playing on we’ve opted for the one spin option,” he said. “It gives Mitch Santner more responsibility as he’ll likely be asked to bowl more overs, which will be a good opportunity for his development.”
The first of three ODIs will be played on Monday, at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
New Zealand squad: Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Kane Williamson, Luke Ronchi (first ODI), BJ Watling (second and third ODI), Tom Latham (first two ODIs), Brendon McCullum (third ODI)
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo