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New Zealand name Indian-origin bat Jeet Raval for Africa tour

Christchurch: New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Friday named Indian-origin batsman Jeet Raval in the squad for the upcoming Test series against Zimbabwe and South Africa next month.

Raval is the latest Indian recruit after leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who returned to the Black Caps squad since playing his last Test in 2014.

The 27-year-old Raval has been a consistent performer at the top of the order in the domestic four day competition, with a first-class career average of 43.85. In the 2015-16 season he averaged 55.71, making three centuries and helping lead the Aces to the Plunket Shield title.

Coach Mike Hesson said Raval deserved his call-up and hailed Sodhi’s ongoing development.

"Jeet has been impressive in the Plunket Shield for a number of years now and in the last 12 months we’ve seen his maturity and decision making continue to improve," Hesson was quoted as saying by New Zealand Cricket.

"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.

"Ish was outstanding in all formats during the second half of last season, beginning with his performances in the Plunket Shield for Northern Districts. He was also exceptional for us with the white ball last summer and that’s seen him gain valuable confidence on the international stage," he added.

The Kiwis will play two Tests against Zimbabwe in Harare before locking horns with the Proteas in Durban and Centurion.

New Zealand 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.

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