The Black Caps could receive an unexpected boost ahead of the second test against England, the team's final opportunity to fine-tune for their tilt at the inaugural World Test Championship crown.
Coach Gary Stead on Monday revealed that pace ace Trent Boult could make a surprise return to the starting XI for the clash at Edgbaston, after earlier being ruled out of the entire series.
Boult missed the drawn first test that ended with a whimper at Lord's, after opting to spend time with his family in New Zealand following the cancellation of the Indian Premier League due to a Covid-19 outbreak last month. He arrived in the UK on Friday but could yet feature in the series decider against the home side.
The Black Caps also take on India in a one-off WTC final at Southampton, starting on June 18.
"There's a chance," Stead said when asked of Boult's chances of playing in Birmingham.
"There are a few things that have changed since I first said that [Boult wouldn't play] a few weeks ago. The British government has relaxed their quarantine stipulations here, and Trent's actually out of isolation.
"The original plan, with the information we had at the time, was that we weren't going to play him in the second test and that two or three days' training wouldn't be enough to get him to where we needed."
With the second test starting on Thursday, a final decision on Boult's availability wouldn't be made for a few days yet.
"Being out of isolation three days earlier than anticipated does put a slightly different spin on things. Trent is more keen [to play] than he was a week ago as he's over here now and part of the environment but it's too early to make that call now.
"He's only been here 48 hours and he's probably still a bit jet-lagged. We have to weigh up all the pros and cons and the risks before we make that decision."
Stead was full of praise for veteran Tim Southee, who led the Kiwi seam attack at Lord's with seven of the 13 English wickets to fall, but stopped short of confirming he would feature this week.
"He's a workhorse, he loves the hard work. I think he bowled 42 overs in the test and he bowled really well but we have to manage all the bowlers. I'll have that conversation with Tim and the support staff in the morning just to see where everyone is at."
Stead hinted that the Black Caps would persist with a specialist spinner at Edgbaston, despite Mitchell Santner's 23 wicketless overs at Lord's - and the need to leave one of Southee, Boult, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson, or all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme out of the XI should the left-armer be retained.
"I thought Mitch bowled well in the first innings in particular. He could easily have picked up one or two wickets and cleaned them [England] up 50 or 60 runs earlier, which would have changed the game," Stead said.
"It's hard when you look at a five-day game, to not consider a spinner. I absolutely think having a spinner in this game was the right decision... and is probably a course of action we are likely to take at Edgbaston."