New Zealand have had to deal with a fair few injuries before and during this series against India, but the biggest blow of them all came when their captain Kane Williamson, the best batsman in the side by some distance – not because the rest of the Kiwi batters are not good, but because Williamson is sheer class – was ruled out of the second Test match at the Eden Gardens.
Williamson was a slight doubt after falling ill over the past few days, but Tom Latham, speaking on Thursday, sounded confident the skipper would be ready to play by Friday.
However, a fever in the morning of Day 1 coupled with the conditions and heat in Kolkata forced New Zealand to take the difficult decision of not playing Williamson.
Ross Taylor will be the captain for this match, and the veteran admitted losing Williamson is a big blow.
"Tough to replace the skipper and the number two batsman in the world and hopefully we can make use of first use of the pitch," Taylor, who lost the toss to Virat Kohli, said.
"He has had a bit of fever and he was still sick this morning. Would have been hard for him to play in this kind of heat."
Williamson is a great player of spin, and while this Kolkata pitch does not look like aiding the slower bowlers that much, at least not for the first couple of days, replacing him and his runs will not be easy. Henry Nicholls is the player who comes in for the 26-year-old and the left-hander will have a difficult job at hand.
India stuck to the six batsmen in the playing XI, despite suggestions this could be a batting wicket, which in turn would have meant an extra bowler coming in handy. However, Rohit Sharma stays in the team, with Shikhar Dhawan replacing the injured KL Rahul at the top and Bhuvneshwar Kumar getting the nod ahead of Umesh Yadav.