AUCKLAND: Veteran batsman Ross Taylor was on Saturday dropped from an 18-man New Zealand squad named for the T20 International series against Pakistan while Kane Williamson will return from his paternity leave to lead the side in the second and third matches.
Besides the 36-year-old Taylor's absence, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, who suffered a bone stress injury in his back, was also left out from the squad for the three-match series starting next Friday in Auckland.
Trent Boult, who was rested for the T20Is against the West Indies, will also be available only for the second and third games of the series along with Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Daryl Mitchell. Seamer Blair Tickner, batsman Mark Chapman and all-rounder Doug Bracewell will only be part of the first T20I.
According to selector Gavin Larsen, Taylor, who made 38 and nine against the West Indies in his last T20Is, missed out because of the "quality and form" of the rest of the squad. Taylor has scored 1909 runs from 102 matches at an average of 26.15.
"Their (Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway) inclusion and the return of Kane means we've left out Ross Taylor. This was, as you'd imagine, a very tough decision as Ross has been a consistent performer for us," Larsen said.
"But unfortunately we just couldn't find room in the squad for him due to the quality and form of the other batsmen," Larsen said of Taylor, the first cricketer to play 100 internationals in each of the three formats.
Phillips and Conway were involved in a record third-wicket stand of 181 in the second T20I against West Indies less than a fortnight ago. "It's great to have the class of Kane and Trent returning to our T20 side having missed the West Indies series after their starring roles in the IPL in November," Larsen said.
"Kane will return and lead the side for games two and three, but we'll obviously need to take a wait and see approach in relation to the arrival of his and Sarah's first child," he added. Chapman will be on stand-by for Kane for the remaining games of the series.
Mitchell Santner will once again lead the T20I side in the series opener at Eden Park, having done so in the rain-hit third T20I against West Indies in Williamson's absence.
In another report, Larsen hoped Taylor will fight for a spot in future. "He'll fight, and we want him to fight," Larsen was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz. We've got three games in five days then we move into a very important domestic Super Smash competition where there's a lot to play for, for a lot of players. You throw Ross into that mix now," Larsen said.
Larsen added: "What Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway have done in those first two games against West Indies was compelling. It's the brand of T20 cricket we're wanting to move forward with. That's not to say Ross doesn't play that style. He does, but we wanted to put those two guys back on the park against Pakistan and give them more game time. Ross is ageing and we all go through that, so you've got to work harder and harder at your game."
New Zealand squads
For 1st T20I: Mitchell Santner (c), Todd Astle, Doug Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, James Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner.
For 2nd and 3rd T20Is: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, James Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.