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England face a nervous wait on the outcome of Jason Roy’s calf scan which is set to determine whether the in-form opening batter will be available for their T20 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
The Black Caps will take on England, in a rematch of their epic 2019 50-over World Cup final, in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday after beating Afghanistan to guarantee runners-up spot in Group Two of the Super 12s, ahead of India.
Despite losing for the first time in their campaign against South Africa on Saturday, England progressed to the knockout stages as Group One winners but that was tempered by Roy’s injury during a forlorn run-chase.
After being called through for a single, Roy took a couple of strides forward, hobbled the rest of the way and then fell down in evident pain before being helped from the field, seemingly on the verge of tears as he retired hurt.
He was later seen on crutches in Sharjah, plunging his participation in the remainder of the tournament in immediate doubt, and it is understood he should learn his fate on Monday after an assessment on Sunday.
England captain Eoin Morgan said immediately after the 10-run defeat to the Proteas: “We’re all hopeful that he comes through in some manner or there’s some remedy to get him through one, if not two games.
“But we need to do what’s best for Jason ultimately and then the team.”
England arrived in the Gulf without Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran while they were dealt a blow ahead of the game against South Africa with the news Tymal Mills’ right thigh strain had ended his involvement in the tournament.
Horrible to see.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 6, 2021
Roy has amassed 123 runs in five innings at a 30.75 average and strike-rate of 138.2, helping England off to a flyer in most of their outings so far, and Morgan’s side need little reminding of his value to the team.
That was evident during the 2019 World Cup group stage, when a torn hamstring meant he missed the defeats to Australia and Sri Lanka before his comeback corresponded with an upturn in fortunes for the eventual champions.
England, of course, pipped New Zealand in the final on boundary countback alone while the two teams also faced off in this competition five years ago, when Roy’s 78 off 44 balls helped Morgan’s side prevail in the last-four clash.
Morgan added: “He’s unbelievably important. He’s a guy that epitomises everything that we are about in the changing room and the way that we play.
“You see how commanding he is at the top of the order, not only in T20 cricket but 50-over cricket as well. He’s as close as we get to surmising how the changing room should play.
“We’re gutted for Jase but also half hoping that he’s OK. For anybody to miss the latter stages of the tournament, particularly when it’s been two guys in two games, that does hurt the mood (of the dressing room).”
James Vince is one of the two travelling reserves and could be parachuted into the squad if Roy is ruled out for England, with fellow batter Sam Billings an option to come into the side although probably in the middle order.
That would prompt a reshuffle of the batting line-up as the reigning ODI world champions go up against the inaugural World Test Championship winners.
A likely scenario would see one of Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone or Moeen Ali open alongside Jos Buttler, who has amassed 240 runs in this tournament at an incredible 120 average and strike-rate of 155.84.
Pakistan will face Australia in the other semi-final after finishing ahead of New Zealand in their group with a 72-run victory over Scotland. Babar Azam’s side are the only nation to have won all five group matches.