Injury worries for 2019 finalists ahead of WC opener
Defending champions England and New Zealand, the two finalists of a blockbuster 2019 World Cup, are having to deal with injury issues as they prepare to take the field in the 2023 World Cup opener at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad today.
England star Ben Stokes could miss the game against New Zealand due to a hip injury with captain Jos Buttler admitting Wednesday "it's not the time to take risks".
"He (Stokes) has got a slight niggle in his hip. Fingers crossed that it'll be good news for us," Buttler told reporters.
He added: "It's not the time to take big risks at the start of the tournament. It's going to be a long tournament."
Harry Brook could be included in the team for his seventh ODI since his 50-over debut in January if Stokes misses out.
While England will be waiting on Stokes, the Kiwis will definitely be without two of their key starters.
New Zealand's stand-in skipper Tom Latham confirmed that pacer Tim Southee is set to miss today's game and potentially some of the following matches due to an injured thumb while it was already declared earlier that the Kiwis' regular skipper Kane Williamson would miss the game due to a knee injury.
Williamson played the team's first warm-up purely as a batsman and then fielded as well in the second warm-up, but Southee is still waiting to get into action.
"No Kane and no Tim as well," Latham told reporters ahead of the opener.
"He (Southee) is unavailable for selection. He is recovering nicely, it has been nearly two weeks post-surgery, so fingers crossed he keeps recovering.
"It's a bit of a day-by-day process. But fingers crossed he'll be available sooner rather than later as well."
The Kiwis are still hunting for their first World Cup title after making eight semifinal appearances in 12 editions and both finals in the last two editions.
They come into the tournament as a strong candidate to go all the way but most pundits are still handing the favourites tag to either India or England.