Cricket: Injury woes may force reshuffle for ODI series

By David Leggat

Look for New Zealand captain Dan Vettori to move up the batting order for their ODI series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi next month.

A series of injuries to first-choice players, including two top five batsmen, might necessitate a rethinking for the three ODI, two Twenty20 match trip.

Opener Jesse Ryder, middle order batsman Grant Elliott and fast-medium bowler Daryl Tuffey will all miss the tour, for which the first ODI is on November 3.

Ryder is sidelined for several weeks by the abdominal injury he picked up at the Champions Trophy in South Africa; Elliott broke a thumb at the tournament and is looking at a six-week layoff; Tuffey broke a bone in his hand, has had surgery this week and is also likely to be out of action until late next month.

The better news concerns Vettori and allrounder Jacob Oram.

Vettori damaged a hamstring against England, battled through the dramatic semifinal win over Pakistan, but was forced out of the final against Australia.

He is confident, after a period of rest and recuperation, of being fit to lead the team to the Middle East.

And this might be the time for him to move up to No 6. There's no question he can do the job.

Oram is also expected to be over his latest injury setback, a hamstring picked up in training the day before New Zealand's opening Champions Trophy game on September 23.

There are several issues for the national selectors, Glenn Turner, Mark Greatbatch, coach Andy Moles and Vettori to consider.

One revolves around which of two off-spinners to take. Jeetan Patel, the more attacking choice, went to South Africa, but got only one chance and was punished by Australia's batsmen en route to their six-wicket win in the final.

Nathan McCullum, noted for his parsimony and also a capable lower order hitter, might get another opportunity.

Whether to take a second wicketkeeper will also get some thought. They have used three besides vice-captain Brendon McCullum in recent times for different forms of the game.

The selectors might punt on McCullum's health, leaving room for an extra batting or bowling option.

Scott Styris could be recalled to add experienced cover in the middle order.

No Tuffey means a vacancy, with Iain O'Brien and Tim Southee the leading candidates.

POSSIBLE NZ 15 FOR ABU DHABI
Dan Vettori (c), Brendon McCullum, Aaron Redmond, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Jacob Oram, Neil Broom, Gareth Hopkins, James Franklin, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Ian Butler, Shane Bond, Iain O'Brien.

- NZ Herald

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