Uncapped Raval named in NZ test squad for Africa tour

AUCKLAND: Uncapped opening batsman Jeet Raval has been named in New Zealand's test squad for their tour of southern Africa in August, New Zealand Cricket said on Friday.

The 27-year-old Raval is the only new face in the squad for the tour, which includes two tests in Harare and then two matches against South Africa at King's Park in Durban and then at Centurion.

The left-hander has a first-class career average of 43.85, while last season he averaged 55.71, making three centuries and helping Auckland to the Plunket Shield title.

"Jeet has been impressive in the Plunket Shield for a number of years now and in the past 12 months we've seen his maturity and decision-making continue to improve," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said in a statement.

"He's learnt 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."

With Hesson expecting significant turn on low, slow pitches in Zimbabwe, legspinner Ish Sodhi joins slow bowling all-rounder Mitchell Santner and offspinner Mark Craig in the squad.

Five front-line pace bowlers have been selected for the quicker wickets in South Africa.

"Playing two tests in Harare, we need to be prepared for dry turning surfaces, but also know Durban often has a good covering of grass," Hesson said.

The team will spend eight days in South Africa before the first test against Zimbabwe starts July 29 in Harare. The second test is at the same Harare Sports Club from Aug. 6.

Kane Williamson's side then play South Africa at Kingsmead in Durban from August 19 before ending the tour with the second test in Centurion from August 27.

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Mark Craig, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.