Ross Taylor has been ruled out of the Pakistan and Australia one-day international series after suffering an oblique left side strain batting in New Zealand's final Twenty20 match.
He will leave the squad to begin rehabilitation and monitoring after an MRI scan revealed the damage.
Wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi, who has suffered a poor run of batting form in the past year, will play the opening ODI. Test wicketkeeper B-J Watling is recalled for the last two.
Captain Brendon McCullum is expected to be fit for the final ODI in Auckland on January 31.
Taylor retired hurt for six off four balls in the Black Caps' 95-run T20I win over Pakistan, and took no further part in the match.
He initially suffered discomfort after playing a reverse sweep in the nets, but was ruled fit to take the field.
"He was fine at the start of the game," coach Mike Hesson said. "But players try a few different things in the nets. He had a bit of tightness in a slightly different area."
Recent recruit Henry Nicholls has been retained in the ODI squad and shapes as a replacement at No.4. Alternatively, the team could use the recalled Colin Munro after his success at No.3 in T20Is.
"There's no replacing a Ross Taylor, but the depth we've built through the middle order will help," selector Gavin Larsen said.
If Munro is used, he will concentrate further on becoming a part-time bowling option.
All-rounders Corey Anderson and Grant Elliott are likely to fill the No.5 and No.6 roles.
Anderson left the field with cramp in his calves and groin last night after a man-of-the-match performance. He scored 82 off 42 balls and took two for 17 from three overs.
Hesson said he was fine, and expected him to play a major role in their quest for the World T20 title in March.
"It's the first time he's played with that intensity in a while, and on a heavy outfield," Hesson said. "He adds another piece of the puzzle and has worked hard over the last few days to get his confidence back.
As a wicketkeeping-batting all-rounder, Ronchi has struggled in white-ball cricket since making an unbeaten 170 against Sri Lanka a year ago today. It remains the highest score by a No.7 in the format.
Given the strength of the New Zealand order since, he has had few sustained opportunities.
However, he has been dismissed without scoring double figures in 13 of his last 20 ODI innings. He saw a return to form with 37 not out off 31 balls against Sri Lanka at Mt Maunganui.
In T20Is he has not passed six in five of his six innings in the past year. On each occasion he entered with between 2.1 and 10.5 overs left.
Larsen stressed Ronchi was being rested.
"This isn't about form. We've tried to rotate guys the whole season to keep them fresh over a long summer. This is a chance for him to have a week away and recharge the batteries.
"We still very much see him as our incumbent white ball keeper but, in saying that, we're always trying to develop depth across all formats. We know B-J's pedigree in test matches, but want to expose him to white ball cricket too.
Larsen said they had also discussed whether to further trial spinners like Ish Sodhi and Todd Astle, as options for the World T20.
"We decided the No.1 priority is to win games and series. We felt we were best served with one frontline spinner in Mitchell Santner. It's a good opportunity for him to get sets of 10 overs in ODI cricket.
The New Zealand team for the World T20 is expected to be named on February 1. The Chappell-Hadlee series starts later that week.