New Zealand on Tuesday have announced a strong 15-man squad for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship final (WTC) against India starting on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Captain Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling are back in the Black Caps squad and have cleared their fitness tests before the WTC final. Opener Devon Conway, who scored a double century on his Test debut at Lord’s, left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel has also been included in the 15-member New Zealand squad.

Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell Santner have been left out after the squad that played the two-Test series against England was whittled down. However, there’s no major surprise in the NZ squad with Colin de Grandhomme included as sole allrounder. Will Young is also included as the batting cover and Tom Blundell, who replaced injured BJ Watling in the second Test, continues to be his back-up.

Ajaz Patel has been preferred as the specialist spinner over Mitchell Santner. Patel took four wickets across the two Tests against England as the visitors went on to clinch the series 1-0. “It’s not easy to say goodbye to guys who have given so much to the group,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said.

“We have gone with Ajaz as our specialist spinner after an impressive outing at Edgbaston [where he took four wickets] and we believe he could be a factor at the Ageas Bowl (Hampshire Bowl).”

Skipper Williamson had missed the second Test at Edgbaston due to a niggle in his left elbow while wicketkeeper-batsman Watling sat out of it due to back injury.

“Colin’s been an integral member of our Test set-up for many years and it was great to see him return at Lord’s after a long injury lay-off. He’s a proven performer at the top level and we back him to do a job with the bat or the ball if called upon,” the NZ coach added.

“Kane and BJ have certainly benefitted from their week of rest and rehabilitation and we expect them to be fit and available for the final.”

The 49-year-old Stead also spoke about the importance of inaugural World Test Championship and acknowledged the worthy opponents – Team India.

“Playing in a World Cup Final is a really special occasion and I know the guys are looking forward to getting into their work here in Southampton. India are a world-class outfit who possess match winners all through their line-up, so we’re under no illusion about how tough they will be to beat,” said Stead further.

New Zealand WTC Final Squad vs India: Kane Williamson (C), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner BJ Watling and Will Young.