In a major setback for the Black Caps, skipper Kane Williamson is facing a probable sidelining from the remainder of the T20I series against Pakistan. The prolific batter suffered a hamstring injury during the team’s recent victory, forcing him to retire hurt. Williamson has returned to Tauranga, eagerly awaiting the outcome of a forthcoming scan.
Despite the 21-run triumph, New Zealand’s celebrations are subdued as they now lead the five-match series two-nil. The upcoming game in Dunedin will miss Williamson, who was initially slated to skip it and return for the subsequent matches. Unfortunately, the star player is now unlikely to make a comeback in the Pakistan series.
Black Caps coach Gary Stead revealed that batter Will Young has joined the squad as injury cover. Concerns loom over Williamson’s fitness, especially with crucial Test matches against South Africa and Australia on the horizon. Stead emphasized the priority of ensuring Williamson’s well-being for the imminent Test encounters.
The injury, located on the same leg that underwent surgery for an ACL injury in April last year, adds to the complexity. Stead commended Williamson’s resilience in returning to the field after a serious knee injury, noting the demanding rehabilitation process.
“With the test matches so close… and a higher priority, it’s likely we’ll try and make sure that he’s right for that. The knee injury was a really serious thing that can take anything from 12 to 18 months to come completely right,” Stead said as quoted by nzherald.co.nz
“He’s done remarkably well to get back and do what he has done. Kane is a prodigious trainer so probably even by his standards, he hasn’t quite done as much as what he would have liked, but he’s still showing the results which is pretty amazing in itself,” Stead added.
The severity of the injury is yet to be disclosed, but the Black Caps will miss their captain’s leadership and batting prowess. In Williamson’s absence, Tim Seifert is expected to step up, eager to capitalize on the opportunity.
It’s tough when you’re asking him to go out and play a really dynamic type of game: Stead
Despite the setback, Stead praised the standout performances in the series, particularly Finn Allen’s explosive innings. Allen’s dynamic style, complemented by a powerful strike rate, contrasts with the more subdued approaches of Williamson and Devon Conway at the top of the order.
“It’s tough when you’re asking him to go out and play a really dynamic type of game. He obviously has the power to hurt any team in the world and let’s not forget, this Pakistan side is one of the best bowling sides that that we will come across as well,” Stead remarked, acknowledging Allen’s potential to be a game-changer.
Seamer Ben Sears, too, has made a mark this summer, claiming four wickets in the T20Is, including the prized wicket of Pakistan’s top batter Babar Azam. Despite being occasionally expensive, Sears has showcased impressive pace, variations, and strategic thinking.
However, the Black Caps’ dominance has been marred by a series of dropped catches in the field.
“We pride ourselves on our fielding, we know we don’t take every catch and it’s not through lack of effort but it’s something you want to make sure that as a team that we’re at the very top of where we can be so when we get those half chances we do we do expect to take some of them,” Stead expressed, highlighting an area for improvement.
As the T20I series unfolds, the Black Caps face challenges not only on the field but also in managing the absence of their influential captain. The resilience of the squad will be put to the test as they aim to secure a series victory against a formidable Pakistan side.