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New Zealand not ready to leave Williamson out of World Cup at any cost

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RAWALPINDI: New Zealand veteran Kane Williamson would not be left out of the ICC ODI World Cup later this year as the Blackcaps management considers roping him in a mentoring role if he will not be completely fit to play the megaevent.

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead has refused to rule out Williamson from the BlackCaps World Cup squad as yet, hoping the injured batter would make a full recovery before the tournament.

Williamson ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee while fielding for Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League match earlier this month and underwent surgery.

Typically, the injury takes around six-month rehabilitation, which means the Blackcaps regular captain will be in a tight spot ahead of the megaevent in terms of proving his fitness.

Speaking in a press conference ahead of the five-game PAK vs NZ ODI series, Stead provided an update on Williamsons’ fitness, saying, his surgery had gone well and he would be given ample to recover fully.

“Look, it’s still far too early to know,” Stead said of Williamson.

“He’s had the operation and, to date, what we know, that’s been successful. So he is in the very, very early stages of his rehab programme.

“It’s obviously pretty non-weight-bearing at this stage, and he’s in a brace. So, it’s really just meeting milestones as we go.

“Our line around Kane, at the moment, is still it’s unlikely that he will be available, but we certainly don’t want to rule out a person of his class and calibre, and the things he brings to this team, too early in case there is that chance still.”

New Zealand’s head coach claimed Williamson would still travel with the team to India for the World Cup to serve as a mentor in case he was not completely fit to play.

New Zealand finished as runner-up in the last edition of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup in 2019 under Williamson’s captaincy. They lost to England in the epic final that went down to Super Over with the hosts eventually lifting the trophy on boundary count.

The 32-year-old’s absence in the upcoming edition of the 50-overs megaevent would be a major blow for his national side. The right-hander has scored more than 6000 ODI runs at an average of 47.83 in 161 ODI matches.

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