Wellington: Test novice Tim Ambrose forged an unbroken 155-run partnership with Paul Collingwood to rescue England on the first day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve here on Thursday.
At stumps England were 291 for five with Ambrose in only his second Test on 97 and the vastly more experienced Collingwood on 48.
The 25-year-old Ambrose, known as "Freak" because everything apparently comes easily to him, arrived at the crease shortly before the tea break when England had collapsed to 136 for five.
Faced with a dire situation, Ambrose was circumspect with the first four balls before launching into his counter-attack by extracting 16 off Mark Gillespie in the last over before tea.
He belted fours and contributed to four leg byes when he was hit on the helmet and the ball deflected to the boundary.
As his score rose, and Collingwood was prepared to play the support role at the other end, Australian-born Ambrose oozed confidence as he aggressively moved into the 90s pulling Kyle Mills for six over the fine-leg boundary.
England could narrowly claim the honours on the first day with unbroken stands before lunch and after tea while New Zealand took five wickets in the middle session.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori won the toss and had no hesitation in bowling first on a green wicket with overcast skies.
But his bowlers failed to take full advantage of the conditions allowing Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook to go through to lunch at 79 without loss.
On the second ball after lunch the momentum changed when allrounder Jacob Oram bowled Vaughan for 32 and in his next over had Cook caught behind by Brendon McCullum for 44.
Kyle Mills chimed in with the wicket of Andrew Strauss for eight when he directed the ball straight to Mathew Sinclair at point and in the first nine overs after lunch England had lost three wickets for only 15 runs.
Mills was also unlucky not to get Ian Bell first ball when he sent a top edge to midwicket where Mark Gillespie completely misjudged the flight of the ball and spilled the catch.
Bell had a second life when he was dropped by McCullum and he crawled to 11 off 38 balls before McCullum made no mistake with the next edge and held a catch diving to his right off Chris Martin.
Gillespie also made amends for his dropped catch when he bowled Kevin Pietersen for 26 as the England dangerman played all around a full length delivery and England had lost five wickets for 57 runs.
It was the removal of Pietersen that saw the arrival of wicketkeeper Ambrose, who had displayed his tenacity and strokemaking ability when he posted 55 in England's first innings of the first Test.
Oram was the most impressive of the bowlers and finished the day with two for 25 off 22 overs.
Chris Martin, Kyle Mills and Mark Gillespie also claimed a wicket.
Banking on the pitch favouring the pace bowlers New Zealand made one change to their winning combination from the first Test with seamer Gillespie coming in at the expense of the off-spinner Jeetan Patel.
England have made two changes to their first Test line up with the under-performing Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison replaced by Stuart Broad and James Anderson.