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Williamson to lead NZ against Pakistan in ODI, T20 series

SHARJAH: Batsman Kane Williamson has been given the opportunity to flex his captaincy credentials after being named to lead New Zealand in their one-day international and Twenty20 series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

The 24-year-old, who has been touted as a likely future New Zealand captain, will take over from Brendon McCullum, who is returning home to rest ahead of the Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand in December and January.

New ball bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult are also returning to New Zealand as part of the team’s player workload programme, as the series against Pakistan does not end until a week before the first Sri Lanka test in Christchurch on Dec. 26.

“Managing players’ workloads will be an important part of our summer plans and this is simply an example of that,” New Zealand selection manager Bruce Edgar said in a statement.

He stressed the decision had nothing to do with the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, with McCullum acknowledging he had been affected by the lefthander’s death during their third test victory over Pakistan in Sharjah that salvaged a series draw.

The decision will also give coach Mike Hesson an opportunity to test Williamson’s leadership skills ahead of next year’s one-day World Cup in Australia and New Zealand where he is likely to assume the mantle should McCullum get injured.

“It gives us a chance to assess and evaluate other players in contention for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 squad, and allows us to work on some of our contingency plans such as developing Kane’s captaincy experience,” Edgar added.

Williamson has captained the side in three previous one-dayers and two T20 games, the most recent the second T20 match against the West Indies in July.

The first of two T20 internationals will be in Dubai on Thursday before a five match one-day series begins on Dec. 8- Reuters

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