New Zealand will head to India next month armed with a three-pronged spin arsenal after offspinner Nathan McCullum, legspinner Ish Sodhi and left-arm orthodox allrounder Mitchell Santner were included in a 15-man squad for the World T20 announced on Monday. New Zealand had rotated through a series of spinners in their limited-overs squads during the recent pair of home series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, though McCullum had not played for New Zealand since the tour to South Africa in August.
"With the Indian conditions in mind, the plan has always been to take three front-line spinners and all three bring something different," said New Zealand coach Mike Hesson in a statement at the unveiling of the squad. "It's great to have Nathan available again and his experience in the foreign conditions will be invaluable. Both he and Mitch Santner have the ability to bowl in the first six overs, which gives Kane a number of options to work with."
Legspinner Todd Astle did not make the cut though after having been included for the three-match T20I series against Pakistan. Astle, who hadn't played for New Zealand since making his Test debut in 2012 against Sri Lanka, was ineffective in the first two matches of the series. He went wicketless with figures of 0 for 41 spread across four overs in the two games and was left out for the final match of the series.
Henry Nicholls, who is uncapped in T20Is for New Zealand, was chosen after impressing with 82 in a Man-of-the-Match performance against Pakistan in the first ODI at Basin Reserve last week. Nicholls will also serve as cover for wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi.
"Henry has shown his talent and versatility with the bat this summer and has also been used as a wicketkeeper for New Zealand A," said Hesson.
As for the injured trio of Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan and Ross Taylor, all three were picked and are expected to be fit by the start of the tournament. The return of Southee and McClenaghan meant there was no room for Matt Henry in the squad as Adam Milne was tabbed for the remaining fast bowling slot alongside Trent Boult and allrounders Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott.
New Zealand is in a second-round pool alongside Australia, Pakistan, India and the winner of the qualifying pool played among Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands and Oman. New Zealand's first match will be in Nagpur against India on March 15.