The Black Caps will take a full-strength squad to Australia for the three-Test series after Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme passed fitness tests.
Marcus Harris just missed out on the century he craved at Junction Oval but the opener was still happy to be amongst the runs as he seeks to cement his spot at the top of Australia’s batting order ahead of the Ashes.
The Victorian opener belted 15 fours in an impressive innings in the Sheffield Shield clash with Queensland that ended in frustration when he was caught behind on 95 in the second-last over on Sunday.
Harris forced his way into the Australian Test side for the first time for recent series against India and Sri Lanka with an unbeaten Shield 250 then earned praise for a six-match stint that included scores of 79 and 70.
But there were some cheap dismissals as well and he also endured a lean patch when he returned to the BBL with eventual champions, the Melbourne Renegades.
However, with form in the remaining four rounds of the Shield season of great significance for those players in the Test squad and with Ashes aspirations, Harris is off to a bright start.
“It was disappointing to get out when I did,” Harris told reporters.
“… I think that’s the first time I’ve got out in the nineties in Shield cricket.
“It’s crap because you have so many bad days so to get that close and not get it is disappointing.
“(But) I’ve had a quiet little patch so it was good to get some runs.”
With Steve Smith and Dave Warner set to return to the Test line-up, Harris isn’t taking anything or granted and is intent on making enough runs to ensure he isn’t one of the players to make way.
“A hundred would have been nice but if I keep batting like that it should look after itself, hopefully,” he said.
Victoria were 3-184 at stumps on day two in reply to the Bulls’ first innings total of 441.
With the Vics top of the Shield table and Queensland third, the clash is an important one as states fight for a spot in the final.
But there are several Ashes auditions taking place within that struggle for Shield honours.
Test pair Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne got Queensland off to a good start with half-centuries on day one.
But both will be kicking themselves at the missed opportunity to cement their spots with centuries, with Burns out for 60 and Labuschagne for 59.
Queensland and former Test opener Matt Renshaw and Victorian Ashes smoky Will Pucovski did little to press their claims, out for 29 and 22 respectively.