Martin Guptill has been named in the 13-man squad for the first two ODIs against Pakistan, New Zealand Cricket announced on Monday. The opener has recovered from a hamstring injury and will be replacing George Worker in the side.
Gavin Larsen, the national selector, admitted it was tough to leave out Worker especially after his two half-centuries. "It's tough on George missing out, but he'll continue to push for selection and will get further opportunities down the road," he said. "Martin is a proven world-class player, so we're naturally thrilled to have him back in the mix. He and Colin (Munro) have been strong for us at the top of the order."
Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Colin de Grandhomme, who missed the series against West Indies because of the demise of his father, too hasn't been included in the squad. Larsen said Todd Astle's performances made it tough for them to drop the spinner despite the conditions being favorable for the pacemen. Astle picked up 3 for 33 and 1 for 24 against Windies apart from scoring 49 while batting at No. 7.
"Todd made the most of his opportunity against the West Indies and made a strong contribution with both bat and ball," he pointed out. "Mitchell has been one of our most consistent white-ball bowlers for a long time now, as can be seen by him being ranked in the top 10 ODI bowlers in the world. Conditions will dictate whether they play in the same eleven, but it's certainly not out of the question."
The two teams will play their first two ODIs in Wellington and Nelson before travelling to Dunedin, Hamilton and Wellington for the remaining matches of the series. The five-match series will be followed by three Twenty20 Internationals.