New Zealand pick uncapped spinner Ajaz Patel for Tests in UAE

With Mitchell Santner still recovering from a long-term knee injury, left-arm spinner who was domestic Player of the Year last season could be in line for debut

Ajaz Patel celebrates a wicket, Central Districts v Northern Districts, The Ford Trophy, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, February 4, 2017

Ajaz Patel celebrates the wicket of Bharat Popli  •  Getty Images

New Zealand have picked uncapped left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel among the three spinners for the three-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in October. Ajaz, who has been the top wicket-taker in domestic first-class competitions for the last three seasons, was picked in place of Mitchell Santner who continues to recover from a long-term knee injury. New Zealand also named squads for the three ODI and as many T20s they will play against Pakistan.
Ajaz, 29, was named last year's domestic Player of the Year and was a vital member of the Central Stags team that won their first Plunket Shield title in five years. He took 48 wickets at 21.52 and is among the three frontline spinners in the squad alongside Ish Sodhi and Todd Astle.
"Ajaz has deserved his inclusion on the sheer weight of his domestic first-class form over the past couple of summers," selector Gavin Larsen said. "With Mitch Santner not fully recovered yet from his knee surgery, it's nice to have both wrist (Astle and Sodhi) and finger (Patel) spin options, given the likely conditions in the UAE."
Ajaz will leave for the UAE with the New Zealand A squad in early October and will be among those competing for the two open spots in the ODI and T20I squads each. The A squad features first-time selections such as fast bowlers Kyle Jamieson and Blair Tickner, and NZ Under-19s player Rachin Ravindra.
One of the two A players who'll be drawn into the T20I squad will replace Trent Boult, who will be on paternity leave after the Test and ODI series.
Tom Blundell was named as the back-up wicketkeeping option in the Test squad for BJ Watling, who has been named in the ODI squad. Watling last played an ODI in October 2016 but is said to be in the plans for next year's World Cup.
Fast bowler Adam Milne returns to the T20I squad, while Tim Seifert, Mark Chapman and Lockie Ferguson will represent the A side in the T20s before moving to the international T20 squad to face Pakistan.
Test squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Todd Astle, Ish Sodhi, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult
ODI: Kane Williamson (capt), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Taylor, Nicholls, Latham, Watling, de Grandhomme, Astle, Sodhi, Southee, Henry, Boult, two to be added from NZ A/NZ T20 squad
T20I: Kane Williamson (capt), Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, two to be added from NZ A
New Zealand A (for T20, 50-over and first-class matches against Pakistan A): Corey Anderson, Astle, Blundell, Tom Bruce, Chapman, Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Patel, Glenn Phillips, Raval, Rachin Ravindra, Seifert, Blair Tickner, Logan van Beek, George Worker, Will Young, Wagner, Watling