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Ravindra, Santner in spin-heavy NZ squad for Bangladesh Test tour

Trent Boult makes himself unavailable while Matt Henry returns from injury

Deivarayan Muthu
Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra have both returned to New Zealand's Test side  •  NZC

Mitchell Santner and Rachin Ravindra have both returned to New Zealand's Test side  •  NZC

New Zealand have packed their side with as many as five spin-bowling options, including Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips, for their upcoming two-match Test series in Bangladesh.
Ravindra, who was dropped from the Test team after a shock defeat to Bangladesh in Mount Maunganui in January 2022, has been recalled on the back of breakout ODI World Cup. He has rattled off 523 runs in eight innings in the tournament so far, and became the first player to score three hundreds for New Zealand in men's ODI World Cups.
Mitchell Santner also returned to the Test side after having last played the format in June 2021. Santner had a productive 2022-23 Plunket Shield season for Northern Districts, taking 15 wickets and making 312 runs in three games. At his home ground in Hamilton in March, Santner wheeled away for almost 43 overs and picked up four of those wickets in the final innings, including two in two balls to seal a two-run win for Northern Districts.
Ajaz Patel, though, will continue to lead the spin attack and brings with him strong long-format form. He recently chalked up his 250th first-class wicket for Central Districts and earlier in May, he had bagged ten wickets in a county game for Durham against Gloucestershire.
During the off-season in New Zealand, Ajaz also remodelled his run-up, which he feels has added more fizz to his bowling.
"I think the game's moving forward, and as a spinner you're always looking for ways to continue to challenge batsmen," Ajaz told NZC's in-house media team. "I think the [new] run-up allows things to happen a little bit quicker, from the action as well as off the surface. It's about creating less time for batters in terms of [their] decision-making. It's also still a work in progress. It's something that's still relatively new for me, so it's just finding that rhythm, and that balance of getting the pace right."
Phillips and legspinner Ish Sodhi round off the spin attack. The spinners will work with Saqlain Mushtaq, who has been hired as New Zealand's spin-bowling coach for this tour.
"We've selected a squad we think can compete and succeed in Bangladesh," New Zealand selector Sam Wells said. "With Ajaz, Ish, Mitch, Glenn and Rachin, we have a strong spin group that will offer good variety and options during the series.
"Mitch had a strong back half of the Plunket Shield campaign last summer and has made good strides in his red-ball bowling. Rachin brings a left-arm orthodox option and has improved considerably over the past 18 months with the ball - and his performances with the bat at the World Cup speak for themselves."
Trent Boult, however, was not considered for selection after he made himself unavailable for the tour. The left-arm seamer, who had stepped away from his central contract last year, will instead be in action for Deccan Gladiators in the Abu Dhabi T10 league post the ODI World Cup.
Matt Henry, who hurt his right hamstring during the World Cup fixture against South Africa and returned home from India, was picked in the squad for the two Tests in Bangladesh. Henry, Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee are the only frontline seamers in the 15-man squad. Left-arm quick Neil Wagner was not named in the side.
Jamieson is set for his first Test since undergoing back surgery in February. He is currently with Black Caps' ODI World Cup squad in India as Henry's replacement. Before flying out to India, Jamieson had turned out for Canterbury in the Plunket Shield, scoring an unbeaten 44 and collective five wickets against Otago in Christchurch.
Batter Henry Nicholls, who had suffered a mild side strain during Canterbury's Plunket Shield warm-up has recovered sufficiently to make New Zealand's Test squad. However, allrounder Michael Bracewell hasn't recovered fully from an Achilles injury.
The two-match Test series in Bangladesh marks the beginning of a new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle for New Zealand. Luke Ronchi will be in charge of the squad in Bangladesh, taking over from Gary Stead, who will get a break following the ODI World Cup.
Saqlain, Daniel Flynn (batting coach) and Jacob Oram (fast-bowling coach) will assist Ronchi. Oram will fill in for Shane Jurgensen, who will end his ten-year association with New Zealand after the World Cup. NZC will look to appoint a full-time bowling coach after the T20 World Cup in June 2024.
While this will be Flynn's first coaching stint with New Zealand, Oram and Saqlain had previous worked with the team.
This will be New Zealand's first Test tour of Bangladesh in ten years. They were supposed to visit the country in 2020, but that was cancelled because of Covid-19.
Squad: Tim Southee (capt), Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Kane Williamson, Will Young

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo