Test novice Tim Ambrose forged an unbroken 155-run partnership with Paul Collingwood to rescue England on the first day of the second cricket Test against New Zealand in Willington 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.