Skipper Kane Williamson is set to miss the team's second match against the Netherlands. Williamson's absence from the playing XI has been attributed to his ongoing recovery from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury he sustained in his right knee back in March.
While the skipper featured in the team's two warm-up matches, he opted to sit out the game against England to ensure he is in peak physical condition. Black Caps coach Gary Stead confirmed that Williamson's fielding performance is a key factor in his return to the field, as he strives to regain trust in his body.
Gary Stead on Kane Williamson’s recovery
Stead, however, expressed optimism regarding Williamson's availability for New Zealand's third match, where they will face Bangladesh on Friday. This suggests that the team is prioritizing Williamson's long-term fitness and well-being.
In addition to Williamson's absence, New Zealand's Test captain, Tim Southee, is also dealing with an injury concern. Southee was set to undergo an X-ray on Sunday to determine his readiness to play. His recovery from a broken and dislocated thumb, sustained during an ODI series against England last month, has been progressing.
Furthermore, pace bowler Lockie Ferguson's availability for the upcoming match will depend on his performance during Sunday's training session. Ferguson had been sidelined due to a stiff back but is now in contention to bolster New Zealand's bowling attack.
In the previous match against England, New Zealand put up a stellar performance, securing a nine-wicket victory with a record second-wicket partnership between Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra. With Williamson's continued absence, New Zealand is expected to maintain the top-order batting lineup that served them well in their victory over England.
Despite opener Will Young's early dismissal, Ravindra is likely to retain his position at No. 3. The team management may also consider including either Ferguson or Southee in the playing XI to strengthen the bowling department, potentially replacing middle-order batter Mark Chapman, who didn't get a chance to bat in the previous game.
New Zealand's remarkable start to the tournament without key players demonstrates the team's depth and adaptability. Stead praised the team's performance against England, emphasizing their adherence to their game plan and the impressive partnership between Conway and Ravindra.
As New Zealand prepares to face the Netherlands, they remain a formidable contender in the Cricket World Cup, showcasing resilience and the ability to deliver exceptional performances in the absence of key players.