New Zealand are hopeful injured pacer Lockie Ferguson, who has been ruled out of the Pakistan series at home, will return to the side before the end of the season. Ferguson has been diagnosed with a partial stress fracture to his lumbar spine and will require four to six weeks of rest before returning to training, according to a media release.

After his IPL stint in Dubai, Ferguson played in the three-match T20I series against West Indies - where he picked up seven wickets - when an injury to the left side of his back surfaced and subsequent scans confirmed the partial fracture. While he will not need surgery, he will need to undergo a period of rest and rehabilitation before considering return to play. He is also unlikely to turn up for Auckland for the entire Super Smash season which runs from late December through to the final on February 14, the release said.

"We're all really feeling for Lockie," New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said. "Injuries are certainly part of our sport, but to get something like this when you're at the very top of your game is especially disappointing. The pace and skill he's been able to consistently produce has made him one of the very best white-ball bowlers in the world and a huge asset for the Blackcaps.

"Lockie has a great attitude and I know he's up for the fight so he'll get stuck into the rehab and we're still hopeful he may get back on the park at the back end of summer."

As thrilling as it is to be an express fast bowler, Ferguson has already felt the strain it puts on his body. He endured a rough first stint in whites during his Test debut against Australia in Perth last year, a calf problem curtailed his bowling output to just 11 first-innings overs and ruled him out of the rest of the tour as well as the subsequent home Tests against India. He was also not part of the squad for the recently-concluded Tests against West Indies.

New Zealand's home season includes a five-match T20I tour by Australia in February, before concluding with Bangladesh's visit in March.