Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
New Zealand have been dealt a huge blow as opening batsman Martin Guptill has been ruled out of the upcoming Twenty20 series against India with a lower back injury.
Guptill missed the fifth ODI due to the problem, and underwent a fitness test on February 4, where he “continued to feel the pain in his lower back”, according to New Zealand Cricket (NZC).
It is understood that Guptill sustained the injury during a fielding session on the eve of the fifth ODI in Wellington.
He will now return home to Auckland and rest until the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh, which gets underway on February 13 in Napier.
“Unfortunately Martin hasn’t recovered in time for this T20 series – which is very condensed with three games over five days,” New Zealand head coach Gary Stead was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “It’s a shame as he’s obviously a big part of our white-ball sides, but we’ve got to look at the big picture and ensure he gets the injury right.”
With Guptill out of action, all-rounder James Neesham has been called up as his replacement.
Since making his comeback to international cricket last month, Neesham has put up a number of impressive performances.
In his first game back, he walloped a 13-ball 47 in the first ODI against Sri Lanka, which included five sixes in an over bowled by Thisara Perera.
He also hammered a 37-ball 64 in the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Mount Maunganui on January 5.
While he missed the one-off Twenty20 International against Sri Lanka with a hamstring strain, Neesham proved his fitness by playing for Wellington in two Super Smash Twenty20 games against Auckland and Otago.
He made his return in the fourth ODI against India, but it was in the final match of the series that he starred again as he smashed a 32-ball 44.
“It’s great to have Jimmy coming into the side after some encouraging ODI performances,” Stead said.
The three-match Twenty20 series between New Zealand and India will start on February 6 in Wellington.
New Zealand’s T20 Squad: Kane Williamson (capt), Doug Bracewell, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson (1st and 2nd T20Is), James Neesham, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner (3rd T20I)