Left-arm spin-bowling allrounder Mitchell Santner is set to play his first ODI in 10 months. He has recovered from knee surgery and has proved his fitness in the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka and in the Super Smash, New Zealand’s domestic T20 tournament. Wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham and seam-bowling allrounder Colin de Grandhomme, who were both rested for the ODIs against Sri Lanka, also return to the side for the first three ODIs against India. James Neesham, who was sidelined from the T20I against Sri Lanka with a hamstring strain, and legspinner Todd Astle, who is recovering from a knee injury, were not included in the squad. However, they could be considered for the last two ODIs on January 31 and February 3, after proving their fitness in the ongoing Super Smash. Santner has shown fine form in the T20 tournament, taking seven wickets in six matches at an economy rate of 6.77 in addition to providing Northern Districts the finishing kick with the bat. He has tested out his knee by securing hard-run twos and diving catches in the outfield. Doug Bracewell, who did not play a single ODI against Sri Lanka, was retained in the squad. New Zealand coach Gary Stead said he was impressed with the performances of Bracewell and Santner in the T20I in Auckland. While Bracewell struck 44 off 26 balls and took the wicket of Niroshan Dickwella in a Man-of-the-Match performance, Santner came away with 1 for 27 from three overs.“Our two main priorities have been to select and prepare a squad capable of winning what is shaping as a massive series against India, and gathering as much information as possible ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales,” Stead said. “Tom and Colin are experienced players in this format and will offer quality in their respective roles, and Mitch and Doug showed us what they are capable of during the T20 on Friday night.” Tim Seifert, who kept wicket against Sri Lanka, was left out. Latham will take over the gloves from him. The seam attack has a familiar look with the promise of Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry complementing the experience of Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Santner’s Northern Districts team-mate Ish Sodhi is the other spinner in the side. The five-match series begins with the first ODI in Napier on January 23.Squad for first three ODIs: Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.Published in Daily Times, January 18th 2019.