Hamish Bennett, who last played for New Zealand in 2017, has been called up to the T20I squad for the five-match series against India that starts on January 24. Bennett has played one Test and 16 ODIs, with his last match for New Zealand being an ODI against Bangladesh in Dunedin in May 2017.
Bennett, the right-arm medium pacer, is part of a 14-man squad led by Kane Williamson, and is in line to make his T20I debut with regular pacemen Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson still recovering from injury.
Among those also injured, and therefore not considered for selection, were Matt Henry (left thumb), Tom Latham (right pinky), Seth Rance (achilles), Doug Bracewell (knee), Will Young (right shoulder), and Adam Milne (ankle).
Bennett will man the pace department alongside Tim Southee, Blair Tickner, and Scott Kuggeleijn. Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi are the two spinners.
Selector Gavin Larsen said the call-up was just reward for Bennett’s form and perseverance.
“We’re delighted to have Hamish back in the fold for what will be a huge series against India,” Larsen said. “Over the past few seasons he’s consistently been one of the top domestic white-ball bowlers and we’ve been impressed how he’s been able to evolve his game.
“We all know he brings good pace and bounce but it’s the clever variations he’s added that make him such a well-rounded T20 bowler.”
Bennett is currently joint-third highest wicket-taker in this season’s T20 Super Smash, with 14 wickets at an average of 18.42 and an economy rate of 7.06.
Williamson, who missed the T20I series against England in November with a hip injury, is back as is Tom Bruce, who will be part of the squad for the last two games, swapping out with Colin de Grandhomme. Bruce will also lead the New Zealand A side in the one-day series against India A.
The other change from the squad that faced England is allrounder Jimmy Neesham, who missed the final two round-robin games of the Super Smash with an injured quad muscle. Neesham has not been included in this T20I squad, and will instead play for New Zealand A in three one-day matches against India A, starting next week. Daryl Mitchell, meanwhile, kept his place in the squad.
Larsen said the squad had been picked keeping in mind the heavy international schedule and the build-up towards the T20 World Cup that takes place later in the year in Australia.
“The next few weeks will be really intense for our elite male cricketers and we’re fully aware of the challenges ahead,” Larsen said. “We’re clearly wanting to win the series in front of us while also considering our wider ICC T20 World Cup campaign plan.
“We see both Daryl and Jimmy as important allrounders in the T20 format. With a travelling squad of just 13 and the need to balance the options for the series, Daryl gets this opportunity against India as a reward for his consistent form for the Blackcaps.”
The New Zealand A squad also has a number of players with international experience in Todd Astle, Glenn Phillips, Ajaz Patel, George Worker, and Tom Blundell, who will keep wickets, apart from Neesham.
New Zealand T20I squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Hamish Bennett, Tom Bruce (games 4-5), Colin de Grandhomme (games 1-3), Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
New Zealand A squad: Tom Bruce (capt), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell (wk), Mark Chapman, Jacob Duffy, Kyle Jamieson, Cole McConchie, Jimmy Neesham, Ollie Newton, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, George Worker.