Munro set to return in T20 tri-series opener against Australia


New Zealand opener Colin Munro is set to return for the first T20I against Australia on February 3 in Sydney, following his recovery from a hamstring niggle that ruled him out of the series-deciding T20I against Pakistan. The tri-series that also features England, starts in Australia but concludes across the Tasman sea in New Zealand.

Wicketkeeper Tom Blundell got the nod ahead of Glenn Phillips, while fast bowler Lockie Ferguson – who was part of the squad for the last two T20Is against Pakistan – missed out on a spot in the 14-man squad.

Munro, who was bought by Delhi Daredevils in the IPL auction on Saturday, suffered the injury during the second game against Pakistan and was rested for the final match of the series, with selector Gavin Larsen citing, “a busy schedule” as the reason behind his omission. With Munro at the top, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson will drop back down at No. 3.

“Colin has been assessed and we’re optimistic he will be fine by Sunday,” Larsen said. “We’ve seen how big an impact Colin has in white-ball cricket, so we’re looking forward to having him back.”

Keeping the Sydney surface in mind, New Zealand packed their squad with four spin options, with part-timers Williamson and Anaru Kitchen to assist Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner. “Historically we’ve seen that the SCG can spin a little bit, so it’s important that we have options in that area,” Larsen said. “Mitchell and Ish are our key guys, but having the likes of Anaru and Kane to do a job if need be is important as well.”

New Zealand return home following their first T20I match, and will play the remainder of the series at home. Their second game of the series, against England, is on February 13 in Wellington.



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