Opening batsman Martin Guptill has been ruled out of New Zealand's Twenty20 World Cup clash with Pakistan, tonight.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez won the toss and elected to bat.
Guptill sustained a hamstring strain while fielding during the Black Caps' win over Bangladesh two days ago. While the strain is not considered serious, the team's medical staff decided not to risk Guptill in tonight's match at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, which begins at 10pm (NZT).
It is expected he will be fit to play when New Zealand meet Sri Lanka on Thursday, in their first match of the Super 8s phase.
There has been no word on who might replace Guptill at the top of New Zealand's batting order tonight, although it's understood that it will not be BJ Watling. Watling was one of the four players left out by the Black Caps when they played Bangladesh, but the only one of the quartet who is a specialist batsman.
The others were spinner Ronnie Hira and quick bowlers Doug Bracewell and Adam Milne. It is expected that one of those three bowlers will come into the playing XI for Guptill.
That would require a re-shuffle to the batting order. James Franklin opened with Guptill on Friday, but there was a suggestion that he and Rob Nicol might switch positions for Pakistan.
That would have seen Franklin drop down to five, but all that's now up in the air. Franklin and Nicol might yet walk out together tonight, although Brendon McCullum could just as easily push up from No 3.
McCullum scored 123 against Bangladesh and is an experienced opener.
Pakistan included three fast bowlers - Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir and Yasir Arafat - in the hope that the seaming conditions at Pallekele International Stadium will suit them.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (captain), Rob Nicol, James Franklin, Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, Kane Williamson, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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