By Niall Anderson at Chester-le-Street
Star bowler Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the Black Caps' Cricket World Cup showdown against England.
Ferguson didn't bowl in training yesterday due to a tight left hamstring suffered in warm-ups, and was monitored overnight ahead of their clash at Chester-le-Street.
The seamer was reassessed before the match, and the Black Caps confirmed that he will miss the match as a precaution.
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The Black Caps didn't want to risk Ferguson if he was not 100 per cent, despite today's game being an important clash for their confidence ahead of a likely semifinal against either Australia or India.
New Zealand are practically assured of a semifinal berth – it would take a miraculous turnaround on net run rate for Pakistan to overhaul them – and with at least a six day gap until the semifinals, having Ferguson fit and firing would be a major boost, and arguably essential to their chances of victory.
However, his absence today is a big blow against England's powerful batting lineup, with his 17 wickets so far the second most in the tournament behind Australia's Mitchell Starc, providing a key wicket-taking threat in the middle overs with his express pace.
Ferguson's unavailability could open the door for Tim Southee to make his first appearance at the World Cup, against the side who he claimed record figures of 7-33 against in 2015.
The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT