The Blackcaps have called veteran spinner Will Somerville into their test squad to play Pakistan later this month at the expense of leg-spinner Todd Astle.
Astle, 32, injured his right knee playing for the New Zealand A and will return home to be examined by a specialist.
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"Despite a period of rest Todd's knee has, unfortunately, not responded as well as we had hoped," said Blackcaps selector Gavin Larsen.
"The best course of action for Todd is to get home and get it looked at, with an eye to returning in the home summer.
"He worked really hard over the winter and is in some of the best shape of his career, so for this to happen is a cruel blow."
While it's a blow for Astle, it is the opportunity of a lifetime for Somerville who is within touching distance of making his international cricket debut at age 34.
Somerville could become one of New Zealand's oldest test debutants, behind Herb McGirr who debuted in 1930 at the age of 38.
Born in Wellington, he moved to Australia as a child, before heading to Otago to study accounting.
He debuted for Otago in 2005 as a 20-year-old and played three seasons with the southerners before finishing his degree.
Somerville then returned to Sydney, where he was eventually picked for New South Wales, in 2014, but struggled for opportunities playing behind Australian internationals Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe.
He then returned to New Zealand during the summer and has been playing for Auckland in the Plunket Shield.
Larsen said Somerville had impressed the selectors since his return and would complement the Blackcaps test bowling stocks.
"We've been keeping a close eye on Will and like the look of his all-round game and skill-set," Larsen said.
"He bowls with good control and variation, while his added height means he gets that extra bit of bounce.
"He's also a handy batsman down the order, as he showed with his half-century in the most recent round of the Ford Trophy [against Wellington]."
Somerville will fly out to the UAE on Saturday to link up with the Blackcaps ahead of the first test in Abu Dhabi on November 16.