Ben Stokes’ Injury Concerns Major Highlight Ahead Of 2nd Test


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England is sweating hard over the injury concerns regarding star all-rounder Ben Stokes ahead of a must-win second Test against New Zealand starting Friday at Wellington. Joe Root’s side needs their vitality man Stokes in order to have a go at the Kiwis and draw the two-match series 1-1. But it’s a simple race against time story.
England has lost the last 10 of their 12 overseas Test matches. A statistic that will be of concern to the management and Root will want to avoid an addition of losses to it. The last thing he needs is his key player miss out and add more issues especially after the huge loss in the first Test.
Stokes has been a missing link for England and that was so deafening in the 2017-18 Ashes. The visitors lost the series 0-4 and although Stokes would not have saved inept England, he surely would have provided more steel. England need to break Kiwi confidence, who have had a satisfying summer.
The player, who made his return to the national set-up in the ODI series prior to the Tests against New Zealand, had hurt his back. The injury propelled him to miss bowling in the first Test at Auckland, which his side lost by an innings and 49 runs.
The 26-year-old is still undergoing checks to determine whether he is fit to be England’s fifth bowler in the second test at Hagley Oval. The all-rounder was promoted to No. 5 in the batting at Eden Park and he justified the faith. This in turn also saw coach Trevor Bayliss highlighting his importance to the side.
But he showed his value in the side after offering significant resistance with the bat in the second innings. His graft and spirit was a telling factor for England although they failed to rise up from the first innings howler. A defiant knock of 66 off 188 deliveries is so unlike the macho man of cricket, but he did what was right for his side.
Along with Chris Woakes, the player offered substance in the middle. This is what fans need to see on a regular basis with others needing to step up and rally around the all-rounder.
A lot depends on Stokes’ availability given how England could set up for the 2nd Test. If Stokes is able to bowl, the visitors could give uncapped batsman Liam Livingstone his Test debut to strengthen the batting. That, in turn, could see the struggling Moeen Ali be dropped.
Moeen struggled in England’s 4-0 Ashes loss in Australia late last year, scoring just 179 runs at 19.88. More importantly, he took just five wickets at an average of 115. Moeen’s exit from the side could also help left-arm spinner Jack Leach a chance to have a roll of his arm.
Moreover, if Stokes does miss the Test, that would give the hosts a bigger boost as they know what he is capable of. Stokes as a batsman only isn’t giving England the desired balance.
The match also has huge significance for New Zealand, who have not beaten England in a series since 1999. Therefore they will be wanting to cash in on the same. New Zealand have won seven and drawn two of their last 10 Tests at home to show the kind of form they have been enjoying.
For the Kiwis, Todd Astle’s injury means Ish Sodhi will come in and be their spinner. The pace bowling has been on top gear and one would expect the likes of Trent Boult & CO. to have a serious go once again.
TEAMS (Probable):
New Zealand – Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
England – Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Joe Root, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali/ Jack Leach, Stuart Broad,  Jimmy Anderson.


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