McCullum poised for international return

Brendon McCullum (AP)
Brendon McCullum (AP)

Wellington — New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum hopes to return to international cricket after an extended layoff because of a back injury in the last match of a three-match limited-overs international series against Pakistan starting Monday.

Leading batsman Ross Taylor has been ruled out of the series with a side strain sustained during New Zealand's 95-run win over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 international Friday. Taylor faced only four balls during New Zealand's innings before retiring hurt.

Taylor now faces a recovery period to be fit for New Zealand's first test against Australia next month.

Henry Nicholls retains his place in the squad in Taylor's absence and opening batsman Tom Latham has been named for the first two matches before making way for McCullum's return in the third match at Auckland on Jan. 31.

"It's not great news but we're hopeful we'll be able to get Ross back for the tests. We'll work through that on a day by day basis," selector Gavin Larsen said.

Allrounder Colin Munro has been added to the squad after his success with the bat in Twenty20 series against Pakistan and wicketkeeper B.J. Watling has been named three years after playing his last ODI for New Zealand.

Luke Ronchi will keep wicket in the opening match of the series at Wellington on Monday but Watling is expected to play in the second and third matches at Napier and Auckland. Ronchi will then likely resume for the one-day international series against Australia.

"There's a 'freshen up' factor to it," Larsen said. "What we're trying to do during the season with the sheer volume of white ball stuff is giving guys a break at appropriate times. Luke's been ever-present right through and we saw an opportunity."

Allrounder Mitchell Santner is the only spinner named in the squad.

"With the pitches we're playing on we've opted for the one spin option," coach Mike Hesson said. "It gives Mitch Santner more responsibility as he'll likely be asked to bowl more overs, which will be a good opportunity for his development."

Fast bowler Tim Southee will miss the series with a foot injury but is expected to return for the test and one-day series against Australia.

Pakistan will also usher in new players for the one-day series.

Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi hands over to Azhar Ali while fast bowlers Mohammad Irfan and Rahat Ali join the squad.


New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson (captain), Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, B.J. Watling, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan.

Pakistan: Azhar Ali (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sohaib Maqsood, Zafar Gohar, Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir.

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