With a few days before the 2019 World Cup (May 30) gets underway, it is time for the prediction hats to come off the closet. The upcoming showpiece event will see Australia defend the prestigious title, which they won by defeating the Kiwis in the finals of 2015 edition in their own backyard. New Zealand are quietly confident that they can again exceed expectations in their quest for a maiden title at this year’s tournament.
The Black Caps hope to shed their tag as gallant losers after making the World Cup semi-finals six times then finally reaching the decider four years ago, only to be soundly beaten by Australia. Meanwhile, prior to the mega event, the team has been jolted by a blow.
Their premier wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham won’t be a part of the two warm-up fixtures prior to the main round. The same is due to a finger injury that he developed while playing for New Zealand XI in their match against Australia XI in Brisbane. He took part in three matches against them.
We hope he progresses quickly
Earlier, it was expected that he would be fit for the second game, but that won’t be the case. Uncapped Tom Blundell is his probable replacement in the team. Moreover, it’s still not clear whether the Canterbury-born Latham would be able to attain the desired level of fitness before the main round gets underway.
“Tom won’t be available for the first two warm-up games. We are hoping he progresses nice and quickly and we will have to address it as the days go by,” Kane Williamson, the New Zealand skipper, was quoted as saying in cricketworldcup.com at the Captain’s Day where the skippers from all the ten participating nations assembled for an open press conference.
The Kiwis are scheduled to play their first warm-up contest versus India, captained by Virat Kohli, tomorrow at the Kennington Oval in London. On May 28, Williamson & Co will lock horns with the Windies at the County Ground in Bristol. Their first match in the main round is against Dimuth Karunaratne’s Sri Lanka on June 1 at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
As far as Latham is concerned, he has been a crucial element in New Zealand’s middle order. After making his ODI debut against Zimbabwe way back in 2012, the southpaw has scored 2395 runs in 85 matches at an average of 33.73 with four tons and 14 half-centuries. Latham has also been more than handy with glove work behind the wickets.