• CWC countdown (10 days to go)

    Kane Williamson continued his brilliant batting form of late when he smashed 112 runs off 88 balls to help New Zealand beat Pakistan by 119 runs in the second ODI in Napier on Tuesday.

    Williamson’s efforts propelled New Zealand to a commanding 369-5 in their 50 overs, before the Black Caps dismissed Pakistan for 250 to secure a huge victory.

    He was well supported by Ross Taylor who scored un unbeaten 102 as the home team piled on the runs.

    Williamson has emerged as one of New Zealand’s key players going into the World Cup in 10 days time. He has enjoyed great form in New Zealand’s last two ODI series against Pakistan (away) and Sri Lanka (home).

    Both series consisted of five ODI matches, and Williamson dominated throughout. He scored 346 runs in five innings against Pakistan at an average of 69.2. His statistics against Sri Lanka were equally impressive, with 295 runs at an average of 59.

    He also played two Tests against Sri Lanka in between the two ODI series where he scored a double century (242no) as well as two fifties to become the quickest New Zealand batsman to 3 000 Test runs.

    His captain, Brendon McCullum, said afterwards that Williamson may become New Zealand’s best ever batsman.

    ‘It’s hard to put this on his shoulders while the guy is so young, but I firmly believe Kane could go down as New Zealand’s greatest ever batter,’ McCullum said.

    Former Indian great Rahul Dravid said Williamson will be the key around which New Zealand’s batting line-up will revolve.

    ‘They will be looking at him to bat through the middle overs with the rest batting around him. He can score quickly without looking like he’s taking risks, and he is a brilliant player of spin.’


    James Faulkner will miss Australia’s opening World Cup match after scans confirmed the all-rounder has a moderate grade abdominal strain.

    Faulkner broke down during Australia’s 112-run Tri-Series final win against England in Perth on Sunday and it is unclear whether he will be able to play in subsequent World Cup matches.

    ‘Scans on James Faulkner’s injured side have confirmed a moderate grade abdominal muscle strain, which is consistent with a typical fast-bowling side strain injury,’ team phsyiotherapist Alex Kountouris said.

    ‘He will receive intensive treatment for the next two weeks before we can determine when he can return to batting and bowling.

    ‘He will travel with Australia’s ICC Cricket World Cup squad to Adelaide on Friday to continue his treatment with team medical staff.’


    Pakistan’s hopes have been dealt a major blow with frontline paceman Junaid Khan ruled out after failing to pass a fitness test following a leg injury.

    The 25-year-old left-armer, considered one of the country’s most promising prospects in recent years, sustained a thigh injury in training last month that forced him out of the team’s current tour of New Zealand.

    ‘Junaid appeared in a fitness test and was not found fit enough to play the World Cup,’ a Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman said.

    His absence means Pakistan’s attack will be led by the inexperienced Mohammad Irfan, following the losses of veteran paceman Umar Gul to a knee injury and ace spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is serving a suspension for chucking. All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, meanwhile, faces a race against time to get his action cleared.


    Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood claims England are still trying to figure out how to get out of the stranglehold Australia have over them, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

    The two teams will meet in the second match of this year’s World Cup on 14 February.

    The Aussies beat England in the recent Tri-Series final in Perth, which was their fourth consecutive win over their bitter rivals. Australia have also won eight of their last nine games against the Poms over the last 16 months.

    ‘I don’t think they quite know how to beat us yet, especially in Australia,’ Hazlewood said on Tuesday at the SCG.

    ‘We’ve obviously proved that over the last few years, especially this series again, beating them a few times. They will be scratching their head, I guess, of how to get on top of us in this first (World Cup) game.’

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