Retired Neil Wagner may earn surprise recall for NZ in 2nd Test Tim Southee doesn’t rule out possibility

The New Zealand cricket squad is dealing with a significant setback after a crushing defeat in their first Test match against Australia at Wellington, resulting in a disheartening 172-run loss. To compound their difficulties, the team is now grappling with an injury concern regarding William O’Rourke. The budding pacer complained of tightness in his hamstring during the third day’s play and subsequently withdrew from the field after delivering just eight overs. The extent of O’Rourke’s injury is currently uncertain and is slated for evaluation within the next day, proportionately raising the stakes for the upcoming second Test.

Despite his injury, O’Rourke made an appearance during the fourth innings on Day 4 when Australia’s Nathan Lyon was showcasing an exceptional spell of bowling. However, his presence at the crease did not seem to encounter as many challenges as anticipated, since the intensity of running required was relatively subdued.

The situation has cornered the New Zealand selectors with a narrowing pool of pace bowlers. The Kiwi captain Tim Southee has not dismissed the surprising prospect of calling Neil Wagner back into action for the second Test, despite acknowledging that a return for Trent Boult is off the table.

Post-match discussions on this topic suggest that much hinges on O’Rourke’s physical condition in the coming days. Southee addressed the issue, stating, “We haven’t had a lot of discussions as yet. We’ll see how Will scrubs up.” He further stressed the uncertainty surrounding the injury by adding, “The physio hasn’t sort of put a timeframe on it or how bad it is. We’ll just wait and see how Will goes over the next couple of days. I’m sure there’ll be an update in the next 24 hours.”

Southee also touched on the potential inclusion of Wagner, who only recently stepped away from international cricket but now might be in line for a remarkable final Test appearance. Southee praised Wagner’s legacy and the reception he received during his last stint in Wellington. “We obviously have to go on and make a decision on who comes in and what role we sort of see that playing out in Christchurch. [Wagner’s] had a great reception here over the last week where he got a couple of moments on the field and obviously, he’s been a fan favourite for a long time,” he conveyed. This acknowledgment hints at Wagner’s significant impact on the team and the fans.

New Zealand’s Test squad is notably absent of several key pace figures. Kyle Jamieson is unavailable, and with Boult and potentially O’Rourke also out of the picture, the door is left ajar for Wagner to take the mantle. Should he be called upon, it would provide him the chance to don the Black Caps uniform one last time, bringing his illustrious career to a close in front of his adoring fans.

This precarious moment for the New Zealand team comes amidst a torrent of other sports news that includes India TV’s Sports Wrap on March 3 outlining today’s top 10 trending news stories. Others making headlines are Shreyas Iyer, who experienced a setback in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals for Mumbai after a snub from the BCCI’s central contract list, and the star-studded Dandiya event featuring MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo at the pre-wedding bash of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant.

The next few days will be pivotal for the New Zealand squad as they reassess their options and the fitness of O’Rourke. All eyes will be on whether the enigmatic Neil Wagner will make a return to the Test arena or if the Black Caps will have to look elsewhere to bolster their bowling attack in the face of a formidable Australian team.

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