Kiwi pacer Neil Wagner will miss out on the second and final match of the ongoing New Zealand-Pakistan Test series owing to his broken toes and will not be participating in any form of cricket for at least five to six weeks.
The left-arm speedster sustained the injury on a toe-crushing yorker of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s delivery during day two of the first Test at Bay Oval, still, he managed to pick a total of 4 wickets, dismissing Fawad Alam (102) and Faheem Ashraf (19) in the second innings of the concluded game that the hosts won by 101 runs.
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Speaking on Wagner’s injury and the commitment that he showed throughout the first Test match, New Zealand coach Gary Stead called it an ‘outstanding’ effort from the 34-year-old and that not many cricketers could have pulled off the same. He added how the injections that Wagner was receiving were wearing out quickly and as a result, they couldn’t allow him to go through that pain in the next Test.
“Neil was absolutely outstanding. I don’t think there are too many individuals who could do what he did in the Test match. Neil has not traveled with us. The injections he was getting (to lessen the pain) were wearing off (quickly) and we cannot let him go through that pain again,” Stead told the media at Christchurch airport on Thursday.
The pacer’s absence means that the Kiwi unit will look to rope in Matt Henry in their playing XI for the forthcoming Test. Henry, who suffered from a thumb injury couple of months back while in practice for his Plunkett Shield side ‘Canterbury’, has recovered and has been added into the squad past Wagner’s injury.
Henry hasn’t played many matches in the longest format, scalping 30 wickets in 12 Tests with best figures in an innings being 4/93.
The third and final Test match between Pakistan and New Zealand would take place at Hagley Oval in Christchurch from January 3.
Pakistan came close to draw the opening match of the 2-Test series, courtesy of the gusty knocks from Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan but were eventually bundled out to the plans set by Kane Williamson’s men as spinner Mitchell Santner pulled out a blinder of a catch to dismiss the final wicket of Naseem Shah.
It would be interesting to see whether Pakistan can take on the Kiwi pace quartet comprising Henry, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Trent Boult to level the series 1-1.