New Zealand leaves Pune sore and sorry after notching up its third World Cup defeat in succession against South Africa and with a mounting injury toll weighing on its chances of reaching the semifinals.
Pace bowler Matt Henry is unlikely to feature in Saturday’s crunch match against Pakistan after injuring his right hamstring in the 190-run thumping by the Proteas on Wednesday.
Kyle Jamieson has been called up from New Zealand as cover for Henry and should arrive with the squad late on Thursday, the team said.
Jimmy Neesham is nursing a bruised right wrist after being struck by the ball while bowling in the first innings.
While an X-ray cleared him of broken bones, selectors may have little choice but to play the all-rounder given injury queries over Mark Chapman (calf) and Kane Williamson (thumb), who were ruled out of the South Africa game.
Paceman Lockie Ferguson, meanwhile, is nursing a right Achilles injury, though he was cleared of significant damage by a scan and selectors hope he will be available for Pakistan.
“It’s sad to see guys get injured but at the same time it gives people other opportunities as well,” all-rounder Daryl Mitchell told reporters.
“We’re a pretty close group and we back each other and we’ve done it for a long period of time now.”
After winning their first four games in a perfect start, the Black Caps have crumbled against heavyweights India, Australia and the Proteas. They now cling to fourth place in the standings, two points ahead of Pakistan.
The top four reach the semifinals.
The heavy defeat to South Africa has also seen their run-rate take a major hit and another big loss against Pakistan could see the south Asians leapfrog them into the top four.
Having won the toss against South Africa, captain Tom Latham surprised by electing to field against opponent that often struggles to chase down totals.
Not that Glenn Phillips was questioning the captain’s call after South Africa put 357 for four on the board.
“Obviously South Africa are incredibly strong batting first, but we’ve got an incredibly good bowling line-up and there was no reason that we couldn’t have restricted them to a total that could have been a lot easier to chase on there,” said the middle order batsman.
New Zealand can ill afford to slip up again but is confident its World Cup fate remains in its hands.
Wins in the last two matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka should be enough for the semifinals.
“We’ve got our own brand and if we stick to it, we know that we’re fighters, we keep coming back time and time again, and when it matters most, we really put the foot down,” said Phillips.
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