WTC final: We have no illusion about how tough India will be to beat: NZ coach

Kane Williamson
New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson has been cleared to be named in the 15-member squad, alongwith BJ Watling, for WTC final. Image Credit: AFP file

Kolkata: New Zealand heaved a huge sigh of relief as their talismanic captain Kane Williamson and dependable wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling were cleared to play in the inaugural World Test Championship final against India.

Williamson and Watling both missed the eight-wicket victory over England at Edgbaston due to injuries. New Zealand won the series 1-0.

Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner will miss out on the India clash after being part of the original 20-player touring squad while Ajaz Patel was retained as specialist spinner in their 15-man squad.

“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,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said in a team release on Tuesday.

“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.” Patel took four wickets in the victory at Edgbaston, which gave New Zealand a confidence boost ahead of their clash against India in Southampton starting on Friday.

All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme has been retained, with Will Young providing specialist batting cover and Tom Blundell the reserve wicketkeeper.

“Kane and BJ have certainly benefited from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final,” said Stead.

“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.
 “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 said.

“India are a world class outfit who possess matchwinners all through their line-up, so we’re under no illusion about how tough they will be to beat.”

New Zealand squad: 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.