Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Cricket: Patel, Franklin called in for India test series

Jeetan Patel. Photo / Christine Cornege
Jeetan Patel. Photo / Christine Cornege

India's turning pitches and Daniel Vettori's injured groin have thrown off-spinner Jeetan Patel an unlikely international recall after he was named Tuesday in the 15-strong New Zealand test squad to tour the sub-continent later this month.

Vettori missed the final test of the recently-concluded tour to the West Indies and the need to carry two spinners on the two-test tour to India has created a spot for Patel, who will strengthen the spin bowling stocks alongside leg-spinner Tarun Nethula.

New Zealand Cricket's national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said Patel, who has played only one test in the past 21 months, earned his opportunity through strong performances during the winter with English county side Warwickshire.

"Unfortunately Daniel Vettori won't recover in time for the test series but his injury has created an opportunity for Jeetan Patel to come back into the side. Jeetan has been in great from for Warwickshire and deserves his opportunity.''

Patel's numbers have been impressive during the Division One county season in England where he has claimed 38 wickets at 23.65 in 11 matches, but the fact remains that during his test career he has never been a threat.

In 13 tests, the 32-year-old has taken 40 wickets at the woeful average of 48.40 and his career strike-rate of one wicket every 88.8 balls isn't flash.

Patel is benefiting from the dearth of decent spinners on the first-class scene in New Zealand and despite Canterbury leg-spinner Todd Astle making gains in recent times it would be tough to blood a newcomer on a tour to India.

Wellington all-rounder James Franklin was the other notable name on the squad list to tour India and the left-hander has been called in to replace the axed Dean Brownlie who has been shown the door after a dismal trip to the West Indies.

"James Franklin has been brought into the squad to bolster the batting. He brings a lot of experience and knowledge of playing in Indian conditions which will be invaluable,'' Littlejohn said.

Franklin has been a proven performer in the sub-continent during his past two IPL campaigns, but playing a test series is a different business and the 31-year-old hasn't pulled on the whites for New Zealand since January last year.

Franklin's first-class numbers stack up though, and he averaged 53.60 for the Firebirds in the middle order in the Plunket Shield last summer and made two centuries in seven matches.

There may be a slight concern around his build-up, given he has spent the past six weeks playing domestic Twenty20 cricket in England for Essex, which came on the back of a stint with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

There were no other major casualties from the squad that was beaten 2-0 in the recent test series against the West Indies, with Daniel Flynn expected to be fit after he missed the second test in the Caribbean with a minor groin problem.

The first test against India will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on August 23, and the second is scheduled to get under way on August 31 in Bangalore.

New Zealand will also play India in two Twenty20 matches after the test series that will serve as build up for the world Twenty20 tournament, to be contested in Sri Lanka next month.

Squad:
Ross Taylor (c) - Central Stags
Trent Boult - Northern Knights
Doug Bracewell - Central Stags
Daniel Flynn - Northern Knights
James Franklin - Wellington Firebirds
Martin Guptill - Auckland Aces
Chris Martin - Auckland Aces
Brendon McCullum - Otago Volts
Tarun Nethula - Central Stags
Jeetan Patel - Wellington Firebirds
Tim Southee - Northern Knights
Kruger van Wyk - Central Stags
Neil Wagner - Otago Volts
BJ Watling - Northern Knights
Kane Williamson - Northern Knights

- APNZ

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