James Tredwell will captain England in their second T20 international against New Zealand at The Oval after Eoin Morgan was ruled out with a hand injury.
Morgan skippered the side in the five-run defeat on Tuesday evening, when England just fell short of what would have been a record-breaking run-chase following the Kiwis' superb 201-4 from their 20 overs.
But his injury means the returning Kevin Pietersen could be a straight replacement for the left-hander as England bid to level the series.
Pietersen has not pulled on an England shirt since he was forced home from the reverse tour of New Zealand in March with a knee injury.
A prolonged recovery had threatened his Ashes place but, after marking his return to competitive action with an unbeaten 177 for Surrey at the weekend, Pietersen is ready to resume his England duties on his 33rd birthday.
The right-hander warmed up for Thursday's game with a specifically-organised training session at the Oval, overseen by spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed.
After showing no obvious sign of discomfort, he returned to the changing room and posted a picture of himself in his England training kit on Twitter, which read: "Back with ENG!"
Thursday's game will be Pietersen's only opportunity to impress in an England shirt against international opposition before the Ashes begin at Trent Bridge on July 10.
He has also been included for England's Ashes warm-up match against Essex which starts on Sunday.
England have not lost any of their past eight bi-lateral series in the shortest format but are in danger of ending that run after narrowly failing to chase down 201-4.
For New Zealand, there is the opportunity for another series victory in England after prevailing 2-1 in the recent one-day contest.
The Black Caps could tinker with their top order after Brendon McCullum confirmed that Martin Guptill is a major doubt to return after failing to shrug off a hamstring injury.
James Franklin opened the batting in Tuesday's T20i but registered a golden duck and McCullum could promote himself up the order to partner Hamish Rutherford after the pair added 114 for the second wicket last time out.