Hamilton, March 23 (IANS) New Zealand suffered a major jolt on Thursday after vice-captain and strike bowler Tim Southee was ruled out of the third cricket Test against South Africa with a hamstring tear.
Southee's injury is the third major casualty for the hosts in the current series, with fellow pacer Trent Boult and veteran batsman Ross Taylor already nursing injuries.
Southee's absence leaves New Zealand with four other seam options: Neil Wagner, Matt Henry, who is yet to play in the series, and all-rounders Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham for the Test, starting on Saturday.
With the Hamilton pitch likely to remain slow and low, the Kiwis will most likely retain their slow bowling duo of Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner.
This is Southee's second injury of the summer. In September, he was ruled out of the three-Test series in India after an ankle ligament strain. He went on to play the four home Tests against Pakistan and Bangladesh, against whom he picked up his 200th Test wicket, before sitting out the first Test against South Africa in Dunedin and being brought back for the second.
Meanwhile, South Africa too have an injury concern of their own with wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock damaging a tendon on his right index finger and could need up to six weeks on the sidelines. A late call will be taken on de Kock's availability on Friday afternoon.
De Kock's injury may prove costly to his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Delhi Daredevils, with the 10th edition of the cash-rich T20 tournament starting on April 5.