A mystery illness has many concerned about the state of Black Caps captain Daniel Vettori's health exactly six weeks out from the team's first World Cup match.
Vettori came off the field 59 overs into the Pakistan innings yesterday at Seddon Park with the visitors 163 for 4. He returned in the 64th over. Despite some discomfort and lethargy in the field, Vettori still finished with figures of Uncle Scrooge-like miserliness - 22 overs, 10 maidens, no wicket for 29.
At times, he appeared to double over with a stomach problem; at others he moved tentatively towards his favoured mid-on or mid-off with hands on hips. Even at wicket celebrations he was often muted.
As yet there is no diagnosis. He had blood tests before the match but is believed to have been fine during the three-day practice match in Whangarei.
There were initial concerns he might not play the test - it is not hard to imagine his relief when Pakistani skipper Misbah ul-Haq chose to field on the opening day. He would not have been quite so enamoured with his team when they folded for 275, cutting back his recovery time.
There was mention on a radio commentary of Vettori being tested for malaria but Black Caps manager Dave Currie downplayed that and any other dire predictions: "Clearly he's not a million dollars, you can see that, but he's well enough to play.
"The medical team is not sure what the problem is yet. He'll have the results of his tests in a couple of days.
"He has a bit of fever and he's flu-ey. He's just generally not feeling well but there's no great drama."
Pace bowler Brent Arnel said the team were trying to up their game knowing Vettori was not in rude health.
"It was talked about by Wrighty [coach John Wright]. He said you can't let Dan bowl 40-odd overs in an innings like he normally would if the guys aren't doing too well.
"Dan's a tough guy and he's showing his passion staying out there. Maybe a lot of others would be in a hotel room sleeping it off, so to continue bowling like that is magnificent."
Speculation is rife about the origin and identification of the illness. Sources claim it could have been contracted in India and just come to light. Blood tests can detect malaria which can develop after more than two weeks. Symptoms include fever.
Dengue fever also has flu-like symptoms and can be contracted in India. It cannot be vaccinated against but most infections are mild.
"I have no idea where that speculation would come from," Currie said. "He's not on death's door. The reality is he's playing."
The void for New Zealand without a top class spinner is obvious. Kane Williamson is trying his best as a part-timer but his off-spin exhibits more dart than flight and the Pakistani batsmen who faced him yesterday - Misbah ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq - appeared untroubled.By Andrew Alderson Email Andrew