Astle called up for Pakistan T20s
Legspinning allrounder Todd Astle has been called up to New Zealand's Twenty20 squad for the three-match series against Pakistan, beginning on Friday in Auckland. Astle, 29, played one Test more three years ago, in Sri Lanka, but has yet to play a limited-overs international.
Ish Sodhi, who played in three of the five ODIs in the recent home series against Sri Lanka and took 1 for 33 in the first T20 at Mount Mauganui on Thursday, has been left out to make room for Astle. This does not mean Sodhi is out of the reckoning for a World T20 berth however.
Last week coach Mike Hesson had said New Zealand were likely to take three spinners to the World T20 in India, but that given the nature of surfaces in New Zealand, only a limited number of spinners could play a role in the home series. Left-arm spinning allrounder Mitchell Santner is the other slow-bowling option in this 13-man squad.
"With the spin friendly conditions we're likely to play in during the ICC World Twenty20 in India, it's important we have all of our bases covered," Hesson said. "Todd is certainly an option for us. He has been a consistent performer for Canterbury over a number of seasons."
Astle worked his way back into the selection frame with an 11-wicket match haul for New Zealand A against Sri Lanka A at Lincoln in October. Astle had middling returns in the Georgie Pie Super Smash T20 domestic competition for Canterbury, with seven wickets in ten matches, an economy rate of 6.48, and 46 runs in six innings. However, in the current Ford Trophy domestic 50-over competition, Astle has been in excellent form. He is tied for second with 11 wickets at 11.18 and also has 147 runs at 73.50 in five games.
Tom Latham was added to the squad for the first T20I only as cover for Ross Taylor, who is being rested. However, Taylor will be available for the second and third matches of the series.
The Astle-Sodhi swap and Ross Taylor's one-match break are the only changes to the New Zealand squad from the series against Sri Lanka, whom they beat 2-0.
Nathan McCullum was also unavailable for selection after failing to recover from a knee injury while Tim Southee was ruled out of the T20 series with a bruised left foot.
New Zealand T20I squad: Kane Williamson (capt.), Corey Anderson, Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (first game only), Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ross Taylor