New Zealand have suffered a double blow ahead of the three-match Twenty20 series against the touring Pakistan side. Premier batsman and opener Brendon McCullum has reportedly contracted a severe case of back stiffness as the management is all set to rule him out of at least the first two matches. This after it was announced that New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori would be rested for the inaugural series of the tour.
McCullum had hurt his back during the second Test against India last month, in which he scored a double-ton to secure a draw. But he showed particular resolve to play in the third Test and three of the five ODIs that followed. The back problem had ruled McCullum out of much of the ongoing HRV Cup, New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 tournament, as well.
"The medical staff are confident that intensive treatment and the right rehabilitation will stabilise his injury and get him back to full fitness," said selector Glenn Turner. "Because Brendon is committed to being a wicketkeeper-batsman for New Zealand in limited-overs cricket, we are taking a longer-term view and will not risk further setbacks."
The first Test against Pakistan starts on January 7, for which McCullum is expected to be definitely available, though whether he plays the final Twenty20 on December 30 will depend on the result of another fitness test. The Pakistan series will be rounded off by six one-dayers starting Jan 22 and will be the last international matches for both sides before the World Cup.