New Zealand have been dealt a huge blow with their skipper Kane Williamson sustaining a fracture to his left thumb in the World Cup 2023 game against Bangladesh on Friday.
He played a match-winning knock of 78 runs before eventually retiring hurt as a precautionary measure after being hit while running.
Williamson underwent scans on Saturday (October 14) and the report revealed an undisplaced fracture on his left thumb.
Subsequently, he has been ruled out of at least the next three matches with New Zealand team management hopeful of their captain featuring at the backend of league matches in the World Cup.
Moreover, with this injury, the Kiwi captain will also miss the huge game against India on October 22 set to be played in Dharamsala. New Zealand are scheduled to face Afghanistan next in Chennai and will lock horns against trans-Tasman rivals Australia after the India clash.
Even though the team is confident of Williamson’s recovery, New Zealand have called up Tom Blundell as cover. However, he has officially not been named in the squad yet with Williamson expected to recover in time.
For the unversed, Kane Williamson had made his international comeback in the Bangladesh game in the World Cup after regaining full fitness from his ACL injury sustained in the first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this year.
While he batted in one of the warm-up matches, he didn’t field and also missed the first two World Cup matches.
His return lasted less than two innings, however, as another injury now sees him on the long path to recovery.
“Firstly, we’re all feeling for Kane to have this occur after all his hard work to return from his knee injury. While it’s disappointing news, the initial diagnosis has given us some optimism that he can still feature later in the pool play following a period of rest and rehabilitation,” head coach Gary Stead said.
Meanwhile, Blundell’s selection as cover might have raised a few eyebrows but Henry Nicholls wasn’t available due to injury. He sustained a mild strain during a Plunket Shield warm-up match earlier this week.
Blundell will travel to India but will only be officially part of the squad if any player, or specifically Williamson, gets ruled out of the World Cup 2023.
New Zealand are also dealing with the injury to Tim Southee, who also has a fractured thumb. He continues to be with the squad as well.
New Zealand’s excellent World Cup form even without Kane Williamson
Even though Williamson’s unavailability is a blow for New Zealand, they were playing well in the World Cup even without him in the XI. They thrashed England in the tournament opener by nine wickets and then breezed past the Netherlands.
Rachin Ravindra is now likely to come back at the number three position with Will Young expected to return to open after being dropped for Williamson.
New Zealand will play their next match against Afghanistan at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai on October 18. They are currently second in the points table with three wins in as many outings. This is the third consecutive World Cup when they have won their first three matches.
In 2015 and 2019, the Kiwis made it to the final of the tournament and will be eager to go one step further and lift the trophy.