Somerville played a key role in New Zealand's historic series win in UAE last year by snaring seven wickets Getty

New Zealand have picked four spinners in their 15-man squad for the upcoming two-match Test series on spin-friendly surfaces in Sri Lanka.

William Somerville and Ajaz Patel, two of the spinners picked in the squad, played decisive roles in helping New Zealand clinch a historic 2-1 series win against Pakistan in UAE last year. Patel bagged 13 wickets in the series, while Somerville snared seven in the final Test in Abu Dhabi.

The duo will be joined in the squad by Mitchell Santner, left-arm spin, and Todd Astle, leg-spin. Santner, one of the mainstays of New Zealand's attack, hasn't played a Test since December 2017 due to a knee injury. However, he has recovered from the troublesome injury and represented the national side in the World Cup as well as home ODIs this season. Meanwhile, Astle made his Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2012.

"Playing three spinners is an option in Sri Lankan conditions and we believe this group provides the best variations and skill mix on offer," New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. "England were playing three spinners against Sri Lanka on their successful visit there last year and the slow bowlers also dominated the previous series against South Africa."

New Zealand have also gone in with just three specialist pacers - Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner. Colin de Grandhomme is the seam-bowling all rounder in the squad. Lockie Ferguson, who is yet to play a Test, misses out on selection. The pacer bagged a rich haul of 21 scalps in the just-concluded World Cup. Tom Blundell, who made a hundred on Test debut, is the back-up 'keeper to BJ Watling.

Stead, on his part, noted that it was time for New Zealand to move forward as a group after their impressive campaign in the World Cup and concentrate on the Test championship. "It's good timing for us after the World Cup. It was an incredible time for the team and the country, but we're now excited to move forward as a group and sink our teeth into another opportunity."

The first Test of the series will be played in Galle, starting on August 14. The second match of the rubber will take place at Colombo PSS, commencing on August 22.

New Zealand Squad: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Will Somerville, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling