After Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme ruled themselves out of the next series against India, the Black Caps will begin their defence of their ICC World Test Championship crown without two of their greatest players. A 15-man squad has been chosen for the two-Test series, which will be contested in Kanpur from November 25-29 and Mumbai from December 3-7, with five spin options, including Rachin Ravindra, who will make his Test debut. However, both Boult and de Grandhomme, two of the team’s top players in recent years, have decided to skip the trip due to concerns over the amount of time they would have to spend in Covid quarantine facilities.

Gary Stead, the Black Caps’ coach, said their decisions were totally acceptable because player welfare is a top priority for the team. In a press release, Stead claimed, “Trent has already spent the better part of 60 days in hard regulated isolation this year, while Colin had been on the road since May until recently arriving home from Pakistan. After speaking with both players, it was evident that the best choice for them was to be left out of this Test trip and instead concentrate on getting ready for the New Zealand summer.”

With the departures of Boult and De Grandhomme, Ravindra, as well as all-rounders Glenn Phillips and Will Somerville, will have a chance to shine. Along with recent regulars, all three give spin alternatives for the Black Caps. – depending on the circumstances – Ajaz Patel and Mitchell Santner

With the typical Test top five and Will Young filling the batting spots, with Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, and Kyle Jamieson offering pace options, the rest of the squad has a familiar feel. This will also be the first series without wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who announced his retirement following England’s WTC final victory, with Tom Blundell expected to take over the Test gloves.