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McCullum keen on explosive start

Brendon McCullum will lead out New Zealand for the first time on Tuesday hoping to use the Twenty20 International against England to show they are still a force to be reckoned with despite recent setbacks.

New Zealand's hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman takes over the captaincy for the two Twenty20 matches in the absence of the injured Daniel Vettori, who has been ruled out with a right ankle problem sustained in training on Friday.

McCullum will lead out a side missing spinner Vettori, the most economical bowler in last year's ICC World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa, and also shorn of several other big players that have proved crucial to New Zealand's chances in recent years.

Nathan Astle, Stephen Fleming and Craig McMillan are all unavailable while spearhead Shane Bond will also be missing at Eden Park after his contract was terminated because of his links with the rebel Indian Cricket League.

But McCullum believes the match can be a platform for the Black Caps to prove they can prosper in the future and is eager to inflict an early setback on the tourists.

"We've taken a few knocks over the last 12 to 18 months to be fair, but that's also a test of the strength of your domestic game and also what sort of talent you've got coming through," said McCullum.

"Tomorrow presents a tremendous opportunity for a couple of players to stand up and see what they've got at international level.

"The team we do have is young, it's fresh and I see it as pretty exciting and if all goes well I think we've got the make-up to thrill a lot of people."

One of the main players to benefit from the recent departure of more experienced players is 23-year-old left-hander Jesse Ryder, who could form a destructive partnership with McCullum at the top of the order.

Having fallen out with New Zealand Cricket on several occasions during the last couple of years, Ryder has finally been given his chance at the top level and been handed a licence to thrill.

"He's an amazing talent," enthused McCullum. "This guy hits the ball as hard as anyone going around the country and you can't keep talent like that on the sidelines for too long.

"He's had some attitude things that he's worked on during the last 12 to 18 months but we're massively excited to see how Jesse fares at international level.

"Even if he doesn't come off this time, I'm sure the experience he'll gain from his time with this team and playing against quality opposition will help him shine through in the future."

Tim Southee is also expected to make his debut in the day-night fixture after impressing chairman of selectors Sir Richard Hadlee.

The 19-year-old seamer has been promoted prior to the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, which begins later this month, as New Zealand look to the future.

Ryder and Southee will be blooded in the hope New Zealand can continue their recent success over England, which has included victories in the World Cup and the ICC World Twenty20 in the last 12 months.

"Some teams you tend to do better against than others," added McCullum.

"But they knocked us out of the Commonwealth Bank Trophy recently so they've also had some success against us in recent times as well.

"It's going to be a great series, we've got two evenly-matched teams and I guess whichever team can hit their straps and get hot for the couple of weeks we have during the one-day format it will probably be the team that comes out on top."

The second match in the Twenty20 series takes place in Christchurch on Thursday before the first of the five-match one-day series is held in Wellington on Saturday.

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