Christchurch [New Zealand], February 14 (ANI): New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Sunday announced that opening batsman Martin Guptill will be undergoing a fitness test, and upon clearing it, he will be in the fray to play as an opening batsman in the upcoming five-match T20I series against Australia.
The Auckland Aces opener had missed the final two games of the Super Smash season with a hamstring injury, but he will assemble with the squad in Christchurch on Friday in order to prove his fitness for the series. Waiting in the wings will be Wellington Firebirds breakout star Finn Allen, who has been bracketed in the 13-man squad as cover for Guptill, should he not be fit.
Although Allen won't assemble with the side, BlackCaps selector Gavin Larsen made it clear that the 21-year-old's weight of runs in the Super Smash (512 at a whopping strike rate of 193) had not gone unnoticed.
"Finn's been in outstanding form and he's certainly an exciting talent. Martin's our incumbent opener and our highest T20 International run-scorer so we're backing him to do the job at the top of the order, but he will need to prove his fitness and it's good to know we have a ready replacement in Finn on stand-by," said Larsen.
There's a familiar look to the rest of the BlackCaps squad with batsmen Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman backed to continue in the middle order after strong starts to the international season.
Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, and Hamish Bennett make up the pace-bowling quartet, with Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi the spinners, while Jimmy Neesham has overcome his finger injury to be named as the all-rounder. Tim Seifert will take the gloves and open the batting, with Kane Williamson to lead the side and bat at number three.
"There's no doubt this series is massive for everyone involved. We appreciate the sacrifices the Australians have made to make this tour possible and with the February 22 opening match on the same day as the Christchurch Earthquake 10 year anniversary - it will be a significant occasion," said Larsen.
"Australia will provide a really stern test for our guys who I know will relish the chance to test themselves against the number two T20 side in the world. A five-game series also allows us to really nail down our game-plans and the way we want to play as we look ahead to the World Cup later this year. We've got a great rivalry with Australia and, with the prospect of full houses up and down the country, I'm sure this series will be the biggest yet," he added.
BlackCaps T20 SQUAD: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, *Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee. (ANI)