Allrounder in doubt with bad back October 31, 2006

Styris unlikely starter against Australia

Cricinfo staff

Scott Styris hasn't been able to practice, according to John Bracewell © Getty Images

Scott Styris, who made 101 the last time New Zealand met Australia in a one-day international, is almost certain to miss the Champions Trophy semi-final between the two sides on Wednesday. Shane Bond, their fast-bowling spearhead, was not completely fit but Stephen Fleming was hopeful of him recovering in time for the game.

"Styris is pretty doubtful, unlikely for the game," said Fleming on the eve of the Trans-Tasman clash. "He's suffering from injuries in the hamstring and back. Shane Bond picked up a hamstring twinge in the last game so the practice today is pretty important for him and for us. So we'll know more about that but we're hopeful he'll be alright. We'll assess it this evening." There was also a minor concern over Kyle Mills, who's been one of New Zealand's main bowlers in this tournament with six wickets for 80 runs. He was suffering niggles in the knee and groin but is likely to take the field tomorrow.

The New Zealand coach John Bracewell said Styris' recurring back injury was again causing him problems. "He hasn't been able to practice, he's not likely to play," Bracewell told NZPA. Styris hurt his back during a county stint for Middlesex and his fitness has been under a cloud throughout the tournament. He missed New Zealand's opening game, scored 1 in the second match and, with the help of a runner, top-scored with 86 against Pakistan.

It was Styris who helped ruin Mitchell Johnson's figures on debut the last time the two countries played, in the third Chappell-Hadlee Trophy game at Christchurch last December. A century from Styris included five boundaries off the now in-form Johnson, who finished with 0 for 64 from nine overs.

"Scott played very well [against Pakistan] and he showed the other day what he's capable of in big games," Bracewell said. Another key member of the New Zealand line-up, Bond, should be raring to go for Wednesday's match after making further improvements from a back injury.

Bond bowled ten overs against Pakistan after managing only seven against Sri Lanka and Bracewell said he showed no signs of the problem, despite increasing his workload at practice this week. "He seems to be coming on well," Bracewell said.