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Raval and de Grandhomme in NZ Test squad

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/11/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

Domestic team-mates Jeet Raval and Colin de Grandhomme are in line for Test debuts after New Zealand's Test selectors swung the axe for the home series against Pakistan.

Opening batsman Martin Guptill is finally gone after a miserable year while one-Test legspinner Todd Astle leapfrogs a host of other tweakers for the two-Test series starting in Christchurch next week.

Opener Raval and allrounder de Grandhomme, who played five limited overs internationals in 2012, have shown enough form for Auckland to sway a selection panel clearly in the mood for change following the 3-0 series loss in India.

Raval, 28, was in the Black Caps squad which toured Africa this year but was unused in any of the four Tests before being dropped for the Indian series.

He replaces Guptill, whose lean trot continued in India, pushing his Test average below 30.

His 72 in the third Test at Indore was just his second half-century in 16 innings this year.

That knock and an unbeaten century for Auckland this week weren't enough to rescue the 30-year-old, who is a world class limited-overs performer.

National selection convener Gavin Larsen says he was reluctant for Raval to make his debut in India.

"Jeet has been in the picture for a while now and he benefitted from spending time in the environment during the tour of Africa," Larsen said.

"His form in recent seasons has been excellent and the opportunity for Jeet to begin his international career in familiar conditions will be important."

A surprise inclusion, Harare-born de Grandhomme effectively replaces wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi, who performed a middle order role in India.

The 30-year-old has scored more than 4000 runs in 83 first class games and taken 123 wickets with his right-arm seamers at an average just over 30.

He is likely to contend with Jimmy Neesham for the No.6 allrounder slot.

"Since Colin returned from injury last season, he's made a number of key contributions with bat and ball," Larsen said.

"He provides us with another strong allrounder option."

In-form Cantabrian Astle's only Test was four years ago in Colombo when he claimed a wicket in a win over Sri Lanka.

His domestic output has been compelling over recent seasons and has continued this summer, most notably in two Plunket Shield games at the venue for the first Test, Hagley Oval.

Larsen said Astle's ability with the bat made the 30-year-old an ideal replacement for Mitchell Santner, who suffered a wrist injury in training last week.

Offspinner Mark Craig remains unavailable with a side strain while spinners Ish Sodhi and Jeetan Patel are both dropped after inconsistent form in India.

A sixth player missing from the India series is seamer Doug Bracewell, who makes way for fit-again Tim Southee.

Astle and de Grandhomme have been pulled out of the New Zealand A team to play a three-day warm-up match against Pakistan starting in Nelson on Friday.

Their places are taken by Luke Woodcock and Kyle Jamieson.

Santner and Craig joined four others ruled out by injury - Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Colin Munro, and George Worker.

Returning allrounder Corey Anderson also needs more bowling under his belt before a Test recall is considered, Larsen said.

Black Caps: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling, Todd Astle, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

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