New Zealand duo Williamson and Watling set to return for India decider

By Sports Desk June 15, 2021

Kane Williamson and BJ Watling are expected to be fit to play for New Zealand against India in the ICC World Test Championship final at the Ageas Bowl.

Captain Williamson missed the second Test of the series with England due to an elbow issue, while a back injury stopped wicketkeeper Watling from playing in that game at Edgbaston.

However, the duo have both been included in a 15-man squad for the decider with India, which begins on Friday.

There is also a place for Ajaz Patel as the specialist spinner ahead of Mitchell Santner, while Colin de Grandhomme is the all-rounder and Will Young will provide batting cover. Tom Blundell - who took over behind the stumps in Birmingham - will be Watling's understudy.

Along with Santner, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra are the other players to miss out on selection.

"There's had to be some tough calls with Mitchell and Daryl victims of the fierce competition we currently have for places in the Test side," said New Zealand coach Gary Stead.

"We’ve 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.

"Colin's 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. He’s a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon.

"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."

Despite the absences of Williamson and Watling, a much-changed New Zealand side won the second Test against England, in the process securing a 1-0 series victory over their hosts.

The Black Caps are on an eight-match unbeaten run in the format, while India have lost just once in their previous seven Tests. In the past seven meetings between the countries, both have won three apiece to go along with a solitary draw.
 

New Zealand squad for ICC World Test Championship final: 

Kane Williamson (capt), 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, Will Young

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