Mitchell Santner retains spot in New Zealand squad for Sri Lanka

WELLINGTON: Spin-bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner has been retained in New Zealand's 12-man squad for the two-match test series against Sri Lanka after an impressive debut in the third and final test against Australia.

The Hamilton-born 23-year-old, who bats left-handed and bowls left-arm spin, replaced seamer Matt Henry for the inaugural day-night test at Adelaide Oval, taking two wickets and scoring 76 runs in tough conditions for batsmen.

"The level of composure Mitchell showed on debut was very impressive and he certainly displayed how exciting a player he is with both the bat and ball," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said in a statement on Tuesday.

"His ability to bat in the top six and bowl good overs gives us options and assists the team balance. We're looking forward to watching Mitchell's continued development."

New Zealand, beaten 2-0 in a hard-fought three-match series against Australia, host Sri Lanka in the first test in Dunedin from Dec. 10, with the second in Hamilton on Dec. 18.

All 12 of the squad toured Australia.

Selectors have backed opening batsman Martin Guptill to dig himself out of his form slump and also retained spinner Mark Craig, who endured a tough tour.

"Mark and Martin didn't perform to the level they would have liked over in Australia, but both have shown in the past what they're capable of and we're confident they'll make valuable contributions in the upcoming series," Hesson said.

All-rounders Corey Anderson and Jimmy Neesham were not available for selection due to fitness issues, while Henry, Luke Ronchi and Hamish Rutherford were released from the squad to return to their domestic sides.