ICC World Cup 2019: Injury taking its toll at the World Cup
The Proteas are not alone. Injury has taken its toll on several teams with the tournament just over a fortnight old. The injured players list by itself could make a formidable XI.Updated: Jun 16, 2019 09:42 IST
South Africa and hype go hand in hand at World Cups. Not this time. Perhaps the absence of big names had a lot to do with the low expectations from the Proteas in England. Though AB de Villiers was not there, they still had the proven class of Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla in their ranks.
Before Steyn could even roll his arms, the tearaway pacer was out of the World Cup due to a recurring shoulder injury. In the World Cup opener, Amla suffered concussion after being hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer against England and missed one game, Aiden Markram taking his place. (Complete coverage of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019)
Amla has recovered but the opener is yet to reach double figures since then. Steyn’s injury meant the two-ODI-old left-arm pacer Beuran Hendricks had to be flown in. To further rattle South Africa, fast bowler Lungi Ngidi limped off the field against Bangladesh with a hamstring injury.
With the first choice players reeling under injury, South Africa seem to have lost the balance in their side. It has reflected on their campaign. Three losses and a washed out game means they have to win the remaining five games to have a shot at a top four spot.
The Proteas are not alone. Injury has taken its toll on several teams with the tournament just over a fortnight old. The injured players list by itself could make a formidable XI.
India has not been spared either, with Shikhar Dhawan out for at least two weeks due to a hairline fracture on his thumb suffered against Australia. The opener is not just the lone left-handed specialist batsman in the Indian side, he is a pillar in India’s top 3 that has carried the team’s batting fortunes in the last few years.
Dhawan’s absence means the batting order will have to be shuffled with KL Rahul coming up, having been slotted at No. 4 in the first three matches. The void in the middle order is likely to be filled with the inexperienced Vijay Shankar or Dinesh Karthik.
England too have a worry though there are no signs of panic. Skipper Eoin Morgan is doubtful for the June 18 game against Afghanistan due to back spasm while opener Jason Roy, their second-highest scorer (215 runs) has a hamstring strain. A prolonged absence of the duo will be bad news for the tournament favourites.
Injury has not been exclusive to pacers and top-order batsmen. All-rounders, spinners and wicketkeepers too have not been spared.
Australia have been left worrying about their balance with all-rounder Marcus Stoinis out after suffering a side strain in the defeat against India. He sat out Saturday’s game against Sri Lanka after missing the West Indies clash. Mitch Marsh has been kept as standby and has started training.
Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s most important player, is down with a thigh injury and was in doubt for the June 11 game against Sri Lanka, before it was abandoned due to rain.
Fitness has also sparked a controversy in the Afghanistan camp. Wicketkeeper and opener Mohammad Shahzad was ruled out of the World Cup by the team management citing a knee injury and sent home. However, the hard-hitting batsman known for his battle with fitness claimed he was fully fit, accusing the cricket Board of dumping him.
If that was not enough, leg-spinner Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s chief bowler, was treated for concussion after being struck by New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson’s short ball. He was included in the eleven against South Africa on Saturday.
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell has shaken batsmen with his hostile bowling, but the team is hoping he doesn’t buckle under the weight of his knee. He has had a knee problem, and was struggling against England on Friday. Skipper Jason Holder has said it has become difficult to keep him on the field.
First Published: Jun 16, 2019 09:18 IST