Vettori blow could come back to haunt New Zealand

Kandy: New Zealand’s crushing of Pakistan in World Cup Group A came at the price of an injury to their captain Daniel Vettori which they hope does not prove costly to their long-term tournament hopes.

Early in the Pakistan innings during the Kiwis’ 110-run win over one of the group’s favourites in Kandy, Vettori attempted to take a catch in the outfield and damaged his knee in the process on Tuesday.

A New Zealand spokesman said the extent of Vettori’s injury would not be assessed until the team arrived in Mumbai for New Zealand’s fifth group match against Canada on Sunday.

“Daniel is a key player in our team. We need him to go further in this competition,” said Ross Taylor, who led New Zealand in the absence of Vettori.

“Yet he didn’t bowl a ball on Wednesday and we won. We have to give it a couple of days and see but obviously he is a big part of our team and hopefully he will be fit in two or three days.”

Vettori is the main spinner in the New Zealand bowling line-up although they did not require him much for the Pakistan game because the seamers did most of the damage to their batting after Taylor (131 not out) had set the Kiwis up for 302-7.

But on the generally spinner-friendly sub-continental wickets, New Zealand will require Vettori’s versatility as a bowler if they are to progress much deeper in the World Cup.

Apart from Vettori, the only spinners New Zealand can use are Nathan McCullum and the relatively inexperienced left-arm spinner Luke Woodcock.

If Vettori is ruled out of the competition it will be a big blow to New Zealand’s chances of reaching a World Cup final for the first time.

They have reached the semi-finals on five occasions.

New Zealand went to the top of Group A with the win over Pakistan and have a great chance of runners-up spot in the group at least if they can win their remaining two matches against Canada and Sri Lanka, both scheduled to be played in Mumbai.

New Zealand, who went through a lean period leading up to the World Cup, seem to be peaking at the right time with 10-wicket victories over Kenya and Zimbabwe which came either side of a seven-wicket defeat by Australia.

“We are the underdogs ... so we don’t get carried away,” said vice-captain Taylor following his slugfest against Pakistan.

Bureau Report

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