Ajaz Patel, the Central Stags left-arm spinner, has been included in New Zealand’s 14-member squad for Twenty20 International series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
The 30-year-old, drafted into the Test squad previously, will head into the T20Is as New Zealand’s second spin-bowling option after Ish Sodhi.
“It’s no secret that spin is crucial in this part of the world and with the wickets on the slower side, we’ve taken the option of a second spinner to bring our squad up to 14-players,” said Gary Stead, the New Zealand Head Coach.
We’re fortunate that Ajaz has been playing over here for the past month and playing well; so he’ll be ready to go should he get his chance in the series.
Patel was a part of the recently-concluded T20I series between New Zealand A and Pakistan A, which took place at the ICC Academy in Dubai earlier this month. He picked up four wickets in the three games, including a three-wicket haul.
“We’re fortunate that Ajaz has been playing over here for the past month and playing well,” said Stead. “He’ll be ready to go should he get his chance in the series.”
Patel was named domestic player of the year at the New Zealand Cricket awards in April, and was equal third-highest wicket-taker in the T20 Super Smash with 13 at an average of 21.84 and economy rate of 8.07.
He earned his first national squad callup for the three-test series in the absence of Mitchell Santner (knee) and looked as if a potential debut would have to wait until the first test in Abu Dhabi on November 16.
Patel’s addition was confirmed after New Zealand’s 37-run victory over the UAE in their solitary warmup match on Monday.
Patel has claimed 28 wickets in 26 T20 matches, with an average of 22.60 and economy just over 7.5.
The first of three T20Is between Pakistan and New Zealand will be played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, 31 October.
Kane Williamson(c), Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Glenn Phillips, Ajaz Patel
Thursday: 1st T20 international at Abu Dhabi, 5am (NZT)
Saturday: 2nd T20 at Dubai, 5am
Monday: 3rd T20 at Dubai, 5am