Tim Southee is fit and available for India game in World Cup

The two unbeaten teams at the World Cup 2023, India and New Zealand, are set to face each other on Sunday (October 22), with the Kiwis being bolstered by the return of Tim Southee. The clash is scheduled to be played at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala. Both sides have won four matches each at the World Cup and are sitting in the top two positions in the points table.

This game will definitely break the winning streak of one of the teams. Ahead of the blockbuster clash though, the Kiwis have received a massive boost with their senior pacer Tim Southee getting fit after he missed the first four games due to injury. New Zealand skipper Tom Latham has also confirmed that Southee is available for selection.

Tim Southee missed the team’s four matches in the World Cup due to a fractured thumb but has recovered just in time for the match against hosts India. Latham, meanwhile, also informed that regular captain Kane Williamson remains unavailable for them.

“Kane is still nursing his thumb injury. It’s a day-by-day process with him as well. Fingers crossed he’ll be available for later on in the tournament. And in regards to Tim, he’s available for selection,” Latham said in the pre-match press conference.

Southee boasts of an exceptional record against India in ODIs having picked 35 wickets at an average of 36.48. His best figures of 4/49 are also decent and it remains to be seen if New Zealand will drop one of their performing pace bowlers to accommodate him.

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Latham didn’t confirm if Southee will slot back into the XI having regained full fitness. The other three pacers – Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson – have performed decently in four matches played so far. While the duo of Boult and Henry is picking wickets with the new ball, Ferguson has troubled the opposition batters with his extreme pace in the middle overs.

There will also be debate around if there is really a need to change the winning combination for New Zealand.

Tim Southee returns for New Zealand; India face Hardik dilemma

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Meanwhile, India will be without their all-rounder Hardik Pandya who twisted his ankle while fielding of his own bowling against Bangladesh. The incident happened in the ninth over of India’s bowling innings and Pandya didn’t take further part in the game either. He hasn’t travelled with the team to Dharamsala and will be joining the squad directly in Lucknow before the next game on Sunday against England.

Even India’s team combination changes in Hardik’s absence and it will be interesting to see if they will go with an extra specialist batter or a bowler. The men in blue do not have a like-for-like replacement for Pandya in the squad. Suryakumar Yadav is one batter who can slot in at six while Mohammed Shami can also be included in the playing XI given the conditions on offer in Dharamsala.

The venue has generated the maximum swing compared to the other grounds so far in World Cup 2023. Both India and New Zealand have headaches around their playing XI for different reasons and the fans will be hoping they play out a thriller on Sunday.