Kiwi paceman in doubt for Zimbabwe tour

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New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee is in doubt for next month’s tour of Zimbabwe due to a knee injury.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Tuesday confirmed Southee would miss the upcoming Champions League Twenty20 tournament in India and remain in the country for treatment.

He was scheduled to join the Stephen Fleming-coached Chennai Super Kings this week.

NZC director of cricket John Buchanan said in a statement on the NZC’s website www.blackcaps.co.nz: “Tim has suffered some cartilage damage to his left knee while preparing for the Champions League.

“He requires further assessment to determine the seriousness of the injury, but initial signs indicate that he is unlikely to require surgery.

“He will undergo a period of intense rehabilitation and attempt to return to training shortly. A call on his availability for the tour of Zimbabwe will be made closer to the time.”

One of the brightest young talents to come out of New Zealand cricket in recent years, Southee rose to fame with his impressive debut performance in the Napier Test match against England, where he grabbed a five-wicket haul.

He also showed his all-round ability, smashing the fastest half-century for his country in 29 balls and ended the innings with an unbeaten 77 off 40, which included four fours and nine sixes.

Southee was the third highest wicket-taker during the ICC World Cup 2011, and scooped up the ICC T20 Performance of the Year award for his devastating spell of five for 18 against Pakistan in Auckland, on Boxing Day.

However, his latest injury will be a worry, not only for the Indian Premier franchise, but also for New Zealand who are banking on the 22-year-old to spearhead their bowling attack after the team’s disappointing year in the international arena.

Another New Zealand fast bowler Hamish Bennett is already ruled out of the Zimbabwe tour with lower back soreness.

The Kiwis will play two Twenty20s, three one-day internationals (ODIs) and one Test match during the Zimbabwe tour in October.

The tour, which starts on October 15, will be Ross Taylor’s first assignment as the new skipper of the team since succeeding Daniel Vettori who stepped down after this year’s World Cup.

New Zealand last toured Zimbabwe in 2005 when they played two Tests and an ODI tri-series with India as the third team.

New Zealand will be the third Test-playing nation to tour Zimbabwe since their return to Test cricket.

Zimbabwe, earlier in August, hosted Bangladesh who they beat in one-off Test match and the five-match ODI series 3-2 before entertaining Pakistan whose tour ended on Sunday.

Pakistan clinched the one-off Test and the three-match ODI series before winning the two Twenty20s against Zimbabwe.