Cricket-NZ skipper Williamson to sit out T20 series in India to focus on tests

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ICC Men's T20 World Cup Final - New Zealand v Australia
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(Reuters) -New Zealand captain Kane Williamson will skip the three-game Twenty20 series against India this week to prepare for the test series that starts this month, the team said on Tuesday.

The first T20 game will be played on Wednesday in Jaipur, India, three days after New Zealand's World Cup final loss on Sunday. New Zealand said it has decided to allow Williamson to prepare for the two red-ball matches with the test squad.

Tim Southee will captain the T20 side.

Southee and team mates Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips and Mitchell Santner are set to join the test squad when the series begins in Kanpur on Nov. 25.

The second test starts in Mumbai on Dec. 3.

India will have big names missing for the test series but New Zealand coach Gary Stead believes the hosts will still provide a major challenge.

Indian captain Virat Kohli has decided to skip the first of the two tests https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/india-captain-kohli-skip-first-test-against-new-zealand-2021-11-12, while batter Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will miss the series.

"They're still very, very strong," Stead said from Dubai after the Twenty20 World Cup final.

"When you go to India you traditionally think of spin-friendly wickets and I still see (Ravindra) Jadeja, (Ravichandran) Ashwin and Axar Patel in their line up.

"They are obviously guys that have performed really, really well for them in the past three or four years."

STEAD EXPECTS 'BIG CHALLENGE'

New Zealand will be looking to rebound from their loss to Australia https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-cricket-t20worldcup-nzl-aus-idCAKBN2HZ0GS in World Cup final but their squad will also be without a few familiar faces.

Seamer Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme opted out of the tour because of the prospect of spending more time in bio-secure bubbles, while batsman Devon Conway broke his hand at the World Cup.

Test regulars such as Ross Taylor, Tom Latham and Neil Wagner will, however, return to the fold as the Black Caps seek a first series triumph in India.

"We know it's going to be a big challenge there," Stead added. "(But) we have some new guys, who will be nice and fresh, and maybe add a different dynamic to the squad."

The series will include the first meeting between the countries in the longest format since New Zealand beat India to win the inaugural World Test Championship in June.

"It's our first chance ... to get out there and look at how we go about getting into the final again and defending what we won six or seven months ago," Stead said.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Robert Birsel and Himani Sarkar)

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