NZ call on Patel for injured Craig

Like-for-like replacement for Black Caps as incoming off-spinner looks set to end three-year Test hiatus

Two years after turning down the chance to play for New Zealand, off-spinner Jeetan Patel has accepted a recall to the Black Caps Test squad for their tour of India.

Patel replaces Mark Craig, who has been ruled out of the remaining two Tests against India with a side strain.

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The 36-year-old has starred for England domestic side Warwickshire in recent years and, with 69 wickets at 24.02 this season, was the leading wicket-taker in Division One of recently-concluded County Championship.

But Patel, who played the last of 19 Tests in 2013, snubbed the Black Caps in 2014, turning down a spot in their squad for a tour of the West Indies.

While the off-spinner himself admitted he thought his international career may be over after making that decision, the timing of his selection this time around means he won’t miss any cricket with Warwickshire.

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“Jeetan is up to speed from a bowling-load perspective having recently completed a successful county season - so he will be ready for the rigours of Test cricket," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said.

“He'll also add invaluable experience to our young spin group.”

Craig sustained the injury to his left side while bowling in the second innings of the first Test in Kanpur, in which New Zealand headed into day five 4-114, still 319 runs behind India.

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While he left the field to receive treatment for the injury and didn’t return, New Zealand confirmed he remains available to bat.

“We’re really disappointed for Mark, knowing the work he’s put in to prepare for this series,” Hesson said.

“He started well with the ball in the first innings, before developing the side strain."

When Patel, who former England batsman Ian Bell recently described "one of the best overseas players Warwickshire have ever had", rejected a spot in New Zealand’s squad for their Caribbean tour in 2014, he conceded it could spell the end of his career with the national side.

“It’s not the end of my international career from my point of view but I guess it could be seen like that from theirs,” he said at the time.

“If you turn down an opportunity it is always looked upon when the next one comes along.

“People have said it is a brave decision because international cricket is the ultimate, but right now it just doesn’t fit.”

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