Kane Williamson, Trent Boult rested for Sri Lanka T20Is; Tim Southee to lead

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and senior pacer Trent Boult have been rested for the T20 leg of the ongoing Sri Lanka tour. In Williamson’s absence, Tim Southee will lead a squad that includes a fit-again big-hitting keeper-batsman Tim Seifert and three spin options in Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle and Ish Sodhi.

“Kane and Trent played an enormous role in our recent World Cup campaign and with a big summer ahead, we see it as a good opportunity to give them a rest,” selector Gavin Larsen said.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Seifert, who had suffered a finger injury during the four-day Plunket Shield and later missed the World Cup, returned to the side, as did Tom Bruce. The aggressive Central Districts batsman wasn’t part of New Zealand’s squad for their last T20I series against India, but he was particularly impressive in the Super Smash T20 competition, hitting 353 runs in 11 innings at an average of nearly 40 and strike rate of 157.58.

Seam-bowling allrounder Doug Bracewell, who had been included in the squad for those T20Is against India earlier this year – though he did not get into the XI – was left out now. Seth Rance was picked as a like-for-like replacement.

Fast bowler Scott Kuggeleijn and allrounder Daryl Mitchell, the son of former All Black John Mitchell, have both retained their places in the squad as New Zealand seek to identify their combination for the T20 World Cup next year.

“Following that amazing ride in the ODI World Cup, it’s exciting to begin setting our sights on another world event,” Larsen said. “The series in Sri Lanka will be a challenging one against a team who are tough to beat in their own conditions.

“Our T20 team has been pretty consistent over the past couple of years and we’re really happy with the power and versatility we have in this squad.”

All three T20Is will be played in Pallekele, with the first game on September 1.

Squad: Tim Southee (capt), Todd Astle, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhome, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor

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