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New Zealand have added Martin Guptill to their Test squad as a potential replacement for veteran batsman Ross Taylor, who is nursing a thigh injury.
Taylor sustained the injury during the fourth ODI against England, where he struck a career-best 181 not out.
He was subsequently forced to miss the fifth and final ODI, but it is likely that he will be fit for the first Test, which will be a day-night affair, in Auckland on March 22.
However, just in case Taylor is ruled out of the match, New Zealand want to ensure they have adequate options as to who will take Taylor’s spot in the playing XI.
“We opted for extra batting cover for that final spot and with Martin having been playing in the middle-order recently, he can cover a number of positions for us,” selector Gavin Larsen said. “Ross is progressing nicely and is expected to take a full part in training [on Tuesday].”
Guptill’s call-up shows that the selectors haven’t given up on him when it comes to the longest format.
While the 31-year-old last played Test cricket in October 2016, he revealed that he would try moving down from his usual opening role in order to revive his Test career.
However, his hopes of doing so haven’t progressed well thus far as injuries have resulted in him only playing one Plunket Shield game for Auckland, where he batted at No. 3.
He batted in the same position and scored an encouraging 73 while captaining a New Zealand XI in the second warm-up match against England in Hamilton last week.
“I’ve got a couple more games to go for Auckland so hopefully I can get into the middle order and stay injury free,” Guptill told ESPNcricinfo. “I’ve still got ambitions to play some more Test cricket, I’ve got to score some runs to Auckland and hopefully the call will come. But if it doesn’t, I’ve given it a good go.”