Jeet Raval made his debut in First-class cricket for Auckland in December, 2008 © Getty Images
Jeet Raval made his debut in First-class cricket for Auckland in December, 2008 © Getty Images

Jeet Raval was picked up by the New Zealand selectors for the team’s tour to Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Gujarat-born Raval’s selection for the tour is a positive move by the New Zealand board. With an average of 43.85 in First-class cricket, Raval’s place in the side has been backed by his tremendous run of form. The left-handed batsman’s elegant stroke-play has probably helped him in finding a place in the team heading for Africa in July. The 27-year-old made his debut in First-class cricket for Auckland in December 2008 and has looked promising ever since. ALSO READ: Indian-born opener selected by New Zealand for tour of Zimbabwe, South Africa

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson was quite clear as to why he thought that Raval was ready to feature in the national squad. He said - ”Jeet has been impressive in the Plunket Shield for a number of years now and in the last 12 months we’ve seen his maturity and decision making continue to improve. He has learned to adapt to conditions and has performed well for New Zealand A, so we believe he’s more than ready to make the step up to the international arena.” ALSO READ: India announce venues for 3 Tests and 5 ODIs against New Zealand

Meanwhile, Raval’s 4912 runs in 67 First-class matches speaks volumes. His opening partnership of 321 runs with Jamie How in List A cricket while playing for Central Districts against Northern Districts was one to watch out for. How made a double-hundred while Raval had scored a century. Records were broken as the duo piled on the runs.

Raval has scored hundred thrice in his last 5 First-class matches for Auckland, which includes a double-hundred as well. He will be competing for an opening slot along with Martin Guptill and Tom Latham. What might just help Raval to become a part of the Playing XI could be the fact that New Zealand’s current openers have not looked convincing enough against the new ball.

Raval is not the only Indian-born who has been selected in the squad. Ish Sodhi, the leg-spinner also makes the cut. New Zealand have therefore, announced a strong yet talented team which might just be eager to play some competitive cricket in July and August. Their real test might be their tour of South Africa, later this year.

(Karan Dewan, a reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)