Unsurprisingly, the Super-Over thriller of the 2019 ODI world cup came up on the eve of the England vs New Zealand tournament kickstarter in Ahmedabad. New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, who isn’t fit yet to play the game but was the captain when New Zealand went down to England on boundary counts last time around, said they have moved on. England’s Jos Buttler joked that “it was a good thing it was there last time” before asking what the new rule was this time around. When it was informed to him that they would have to keep playing the Super Over, he smiled and said, “You never know we might come to that, again!”
England are dealing with a potential jolt ahead of their world cup campaign with their biggest star Ben Stokes yet to recover from a hip niggle that had kept him out of their last warm-up game.
“He has a niggle. Final call about his availability [for the first match against New Zealand on October 5] will be taken after practice in the evening,” their captain Jos Buttler said.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) October 4, 2023
New Zealand too are still gripped with injury concerns. Their captain Kane Williamson had already been ruled out of the England match; they hope he will be fit in time for the rest of the tournament. Their strike bowler Tim Southee too is yet to recover from the fractured thumb injury, and there is no word when he would be fit. Both won’t be playing against England, for sure.
New Zealand’s stand-in captain Tom Latham had spoken about the two most experienced campaigners.
“Yeah, so obviously no Kane and no Tim as well. He’s [Southee] unavailable for selection just in terms of what happened to his thumb a couple of weeks ago, but he’s recovering nicely. I think he’s nearly two weeks post-surgery so fingers crossed he can keep recovering. It’s a bit of a day-by-day process with him in terms of what that looks like too. But fingers crossed he’ll be available sooner rather than later as well.”
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Williamson had brutally twisted his right knee in the first game of the IPL for Gujarat, and he was considered to be out of the world cup. But he underwent a surgery and has made a remarkable comeback. He even batted in the warm-up games against Pakistan and South Africa, scoring 54 and 37. But even before the tournament, he was ruled out of the first game against England as they don’t want to risk him in the big tournament.
“You know he’s been batting beautifully, which is great to see and he was out in the field a couple of days ago, so he’s progressing really nicely and fingers crossed he’s on the park sooner rather than later,” Latham said. “I guess any team that doesn’t have Kane in it is obviously, you know, we’d certainly be better off having him but I think from our point of view for him to be here, to be at the World Cup is a testament to – I think the work that he’s put on over the last four to five months to be where he is and I think it’s nearly six months post-surgery and for him to be given a shot, to be given a chance to play in the World Cup at some point is really a testament to the work that he’s put in,” Latham said.
At 4.30, 90 minutes before England were scheduled to start their pre-game practice.a group of school kids, approximately hundred in number, ran on to the turf with massive flags of the two countries: England and New Zealand. They were so vast that when the kids stood next to each other, the two flags almost covered the width of the ground, from say deep point to deep square-leg. 15 minutes later, they folded it neatly, and carried it off the ground. The rehearsals were done. It’s time for the real action to begin.