Expect Canterbury leg spinner Todd Astle to return and Auckland opener Jeet Raval to replace Martin Guptill when the 13-man New Zealand test squad for the Pakistan series is announced tomorrow.

Raval is a candidate to debut, despite Guptill's 56 and 128 not out for Auckland against Wellington in the third round of Plunket Shield.

Astle's likely to edge out Ish Sodhi after incumbent spinner Mitchell Santner fractured his wrist batting in the nets last week.

A leg spinner would appear preferable to take the ball away from Pakistan's right-handers. They used five in their top six against the West Indies.


The venue for the first test, Hagley Oval, also saw 24 wickets fall to spin in the recent Plunket Shield match between Canterbury and Central Districts.

Astle earned his maiden test cap almost four years ago in the win against Sri Lanka at Colombo. His resume this season is strong with 14 first-class wickets from three matches at 18.07 - 11 of those came at Hagley Oval. He also made his highest first-class score of 195 at the venue against Northern Districts last month, as part of a 44.50 average this season. Astle is still listed to play for New Zealand 'A' against Pakistan in Nelson on Friday.

Sodhi has a well-disguised googly, but can be expensive. He took three for 149 at 4.26 runs per over against India in Kanpur, but responded with seven for 105 in Northern Districts' 21-run win against Canterbury this week.

Jeetan Patel is playing for Wellington and was used in India when Mark Craig got injured, but the 36-year-old and his wife are expecting their second child soon.

Raval made 84 and 19 in the same match as Guptill's 184-run aggregate, and averages 40.66 from six innings this season. He has been consistent across several seasons and was taken on the African tour.

However, the 28-year-old left-hander has struggled against spin, as he did on Tuesday when a leading edge popped to short cover as he tried working a ball against the turn into the legside off Patel.

Raval will also need to prove himself against Pakistan's juggernaut of left-armers. In the seven times he was dismissed for 10 or less last season, four were to that rarer breed of pace bowler. Raval was set for an opportunity to exorcise both demons against the tourists in Nelson, but Luke Woodcock's late selection might see him removed from the reckoning.

Guptill performed strongly in his first-class return, and looked the best batsman in the third test loss to India with 72 and 29, but has only passed 50 twice in 16 test innings this year.

Henry Nicholls is understood to have the advantage over Luke Ronchi in the duel for the No.5 spot, and Tim Southee and Matt Henry should contest for the right-arm pace berth, joining Trent Boult and Neil Wagner in the attack.

Possible 13-man New Zealand squad to play Pakistan: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham, B-J Watling, Todd Astle, Matt Henry, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi.