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April 15, 2006
Shane Bond, the New Zealand fast bowler, has been ruled out of the first Test against South Africa with a knee injury.
Bond has a painful inflammation on the outside of the right knee, an injury he has previously and which surfaced again in the warm-up match at Benoni. "He hasnt responded to treatment as we would have liked," Black Caps manager Lindsay Crocker said. "He will have an MRI scan this weekend to determine the extent of the inflammation and therefore the best course of management. Only then will we be able to gauge the likelihood of his availability for the second Test."
Kyle Mills will take his place in the starting XI, as he did during thesecond Test of the recent series against the West Indies.
Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, was also doubtful for the clash, owing to an injury to his ring finger, but, after two net sessions on Friday, he was confident of making the cut.
"There will be some pain, but I'm sure I can handle that," Smith told the SuperCricket website. "Sometimes, when you're batting with an injury, it helps you to focus your mind, and I'm hoping that will be the case. The medical staff would rather I waited until the second test, but I really want to get out there and play.
"We want to get off to a good start in this series," Smith continued. "New Zealand are ranked above us in the test rankings, and we want to improve our ranking, so it's very important to us that we win this series."
Smith acknowledged New Zealand as a tough Test side. "We have a lot of respect for New Zealand - they're well-prepared, they're streetsmart, and they're not a team you can ever take for granted," he said. "Stephen Fleming comes here touted as being the best test captain in the world, so the ball is in their court - it's their opportunity to make a play. It's up to them to prove how good they are.
"We're well prepared. We've gone through a couple of very tough months against Australia, and the guys are battle-hardened. We're looking forward to a tough series, but one that we can close off. We had a lot of opportunities against Australia, but weren't able to close them off, and we want to do that against New Zealand."
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