Despite scrapping through the first Test, Neil Wagner has been effectively ruled out for six weeks, with the toe injury that he suffered during the first Test. Gary Stead also revealed that the board would soon name the like-for-like replacement for the left-arm pacer for the series remainder.
After suffering a broken toe, New Zealand’s left-arm pacer Neil Wagner continued to bowl in the second innings, picking up crucial wickets for the hosts in their win over Pakistan in the first Test of the series. Wagner exited the match with four wickets in his 49 overs, delivering a telling blow to Pakistan’s hopes of salvaging a draw in the Test and taking New Zealand to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time in the history.
At the end of the first Test, New Zealand’s head coach Gary Stead confirmed that Wagner would not be available for the next six weeks, having played with a fractured toe. He also credited the left-arm pacer for his outstanding commitment to the team despite his scathing injury.
"Neil was absolutely outstanding. I don't think there are too many individuals who could do what he did in that test match,” Stead was quoted as saying by Reuters, reported Cricbuzz.
"Neil hasn't travelled with us. The injections he was getting (to lessen the pain) were wearing off (quickly) and we can't let him go through that again."
With the next Test match starting January 3, Stead has confirmed that there would be a like-to-like replacement for the pacer. However, the head coach did not confirm whether the replacement would be a left-arm pacer or a bowler who hits the hard length pretty often. Stead also credited the visitors for putting on a display in the second innings, taking the Test match down to the wire, with just five overs left in the day.
"That was tough, really hard test cricket and it was good to come out on the right side of it against a tough Pakistan team. I thought Mohammad Rizwan and Fawad Alam's partnership was outstanding ... and they nearly took the game away from us. That's what makes test cricket what it is."