Neesham returns to NZ squad for India tests
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Allrounder Jimmy Neesham has been recalled to New Zealand's squad for its three-test series in India beginning later this month.
Neesham, who has played nine tests, has battled a back injury that forced him to return from the series against Australia in November last year. He played for Otago province during the last New Zealand domestic season and recently played for the English county Derbyshire.
Neesham joins the 15-man New Zealand squad for the India tour after missing New Zealand's recent test series in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Opening batsman Jeet Raval and fast bowler Matt Henry have been omitted after being part of the squad for the African tour.
Martin Guptill has been retained as an opener, despite making scores of 7, 8 and 0 during the South African series.
Guptill had scores of 40, 87 and 11 against Zimbabwe but his test average has now dropped below 30 and he continues to show vulnerability against the new ball.
Neesham averages 38.2 with the bat in test matches and offers an additional medium pace option to the New Zealand attack. That may increase pressure on out-of-form opening bowler Tim Southee, who has taken only 14 wickets at an average of 46 this year.
''Jimmy has put in a lot of work to make sure he is physically ready for a return to test cricket,'' selector Gavin Larsen said. ''Having two pace bowling allrounders in Jimmy and Doug Bracewell helps the balance of the squad, particularly if playing on pitches which demand a spin-heavy bowling attack.
''Jeet Raval misses out on this tour but we were really pleased with what we saw of him in Africa. He did everything asked of him and we'll continue to monitor him closely.''
Larsen said New Zealand was ready for the challenge of India's spin-friendly pitches
''(Spinners) Mitch Santner and Ish Sodhi will have benefited from getting a taste of Indian conditions earlier this year at the ICC World Twenty20 and both showed excellent form at that tournament,'' he said. ''It's another big challenge for them early in their young careers as well as for Mark Craig who has made some changes in the past six months and has shown growth in his game.
''India's the No.2 ranked side in the world and their record at home is formidable. We're yet to win a test series over there and that's motivating for everyone. We've got three tests to try create a special piece of history.''
India and New Zealand will meet in tests at Kanpur from Sept. 22, Kolkata from Sept. 30 and Indore from Oct. 8.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, B.J. Watling.