New Zealand fast bowler and new mum Lea Tahuhu, who recently had her first child with Amy Satterthwaite, has returned to the national team's squad for next month's T20Is against South Africa and the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020.
Tahuhu had taken a break for the birth of her daughter Grace and skipped the ongoing ODI series against the Proteas. "It's been a whirlwind last couple of weeks – becoming a mum for the first time and everything that goes with it," Tahuhu said.
"I’m very excited to be back around the WHITE FERNS group. I’m grateful of Amy’s support back home and can’t wait to get stuck in at training ahead of the T20 series against South Africa."
Wicket-keeper batter Bernadine Bezuidenhout has made way for Tahuhu's inclusion in the T20I squad. The rest of the squad remains the same. The five-match series against South Africa begins on 2 February in Tauranga.
New Zealand coach Bob Carter was also pleased with Tahuhu's return, saying that the team will benefit from a player of her calibre and experience.
"It's great to have her raw speed and experience back in the group," Carter said. "Lea offers us plenty with the ball and will no doubt hurry a few batters up, especially in Australia on their fast, bouncy surfaces.
"However, first up we have to contend with South Africa, who have already proven in the ODI series that they are up for the challenge over here. We know we'll have to be at our best to claim the T20 series."
The squad will be led by the veteran Sophie Devine, who, along with Suzie Bates, has featured in every women's T20 World Cup since its inception in 2009.
"We have a balanced side with plenty of international experience within," Devine said after the squad announcement. "It's up to us to put our best foot forward in these five T20s against South Africa and hone our game before another shot at a World Cup."
New Zealand have also included Jess Kerr and Lauren Down, who will likely make their T20I debuts. The 21-year-old Rosemary Mair, who debuted last year, will be travelling for her first ICC World Cup.
New Zealand are grouped with Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India, and will play their first match against Sri Lanka on 22 February in Perth.
T20I squad: Sophie Devine (c), Suzie Bates, Lauren Down, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Rosemary Mair, Katey Martin, Katie Perkins, Anna Peterson, Rachel Priest, Lea Tahuhu
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