New Zealand suffer Vettori blow
New Zealand, dogged by injury throughout the Champions Trophy, received the biggest blow on the eve of the final when Daniel Vettori, their captain and leading performer through the tournament, was forced out of the game with a hamstring injury.
New Zealand, severely depleted already, will miss Vettori's left-arm spin on a pitch that is expected to take turn, as well as his assured presence in the lower middle order. The value of Vettori's allround performance - 3 for 43 and a vital 41 off 42 balls in a nervy run-chase - was fully seen in their semi-final win against Pakistan.
Vettori is New Zealand's leading wicket-taker in the tournament with seven and leads their batting averages. Such were the expected conditions in Centurion, Vettori had hinted on the eve of the final that New Zealand might consider playing two spinners; as a result of the injury, Jeetan Patel was named in the starting line-up as the only spinner.
New Zealand's run to the final has been made all the more credible, given the injury list they have built up. Before Vettori, at various stages in the tournament, they have lost key players in Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder and Daryl Tuffey. Ian Butler missed the first game with an intestinal infection and Grant Elliott has played the last two games with a thumb injury.
In his absence, Brendon McCullum took over to lead the side for only the second time in ODIs. His first match as captain also came earlier this year, against India in March.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo