By Niall Anderson at Chester-le-Street
He was sorely missed against England, but Lockie Ferguson is set to make a timely return for the Black Caps' semifinal at the Cricket World Cup.
Ferguson was a late withdrawal from New Zealand's 119-run defeat to England with a tight hamstring suffered in training, but Black Caps coach Gary Stead confirmed he was kept out of the clash more as a precaution, knowing that – miracle aside – a semifinal was already confirmed.
"Lockie will be fine - if it was a final or semifinal yesterday we possibly could have played him," said Stead.
"He had a little bit of a hamstring niggle – it was very minor, we've had it all checked out, so are very confident he'll be right to play."
Ferguson has claimed the second-most wickets at the tournament, with 17 scalps at an average of 18.6, and a solid economy rate a tick under five an over. His presence will be crucial for a Black Caps bowling attack which, without him, conceded their largest total of the World Cup against England at Chester-le-Street.
Without the mustachioed fast bowler, the New Zealand attack was carted all over the park by England openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow. The pair added 123 in just 18.4 overs – the first opening pair to blunt New Zealand's new ball efforts – as the Black Caps had to utilise six bowlers before they finally got the breakthrough.
Tim Southee, playing in his first ODI since February, was understandably rusty in his return of 1-70, while the pace-bowling trio of Southee, Trent Boult and Matt Henry were arguably too similar in style, without the differentiator of Ferguson's express pace.
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson acknowledged that his side missed the diversity Ferguson provides to the seam attack.
"He's been outstanding throughout this whole tournament and a real point of difference for us in terms of the way he compliments our bowling attack and coming in and bowling at 150km/h naturally is a great weapon to have.
"So did we miss him? Yes, he's been so successful in the last eight games but, saying that, potentially we'd miss him more if we didn't have him hopefully in another game's time."
So while England's batsmen could breathe a sigh of relief at avoiding Ferguson's examination, the Black Caps' semifinal opponents – either Australia or India – will still need to prepare for his treacherous test.
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