New Zealand opener Hamish Rutherford celebrating his century. (Getty Images)
Dunedin: Opener Hamish Rutherford made 171 on debut to lead New Zealand to 402 for 7 and a 235-run first innings lead over England on the third day of the first Test. Showers early in Friday's final session caused stumps to be called, with the home side in a strong position.
Rutherford became the ninth New Zealander to score a century on Test debut and went on to reach the seventh-highest total by a debuting player for any country. Recalled veteran Peter Fulton made 55 in a 158-run opening stand with Rutherford - the first century partnership by a New Zealand opening pair in 23 innings - and captain Brendon McCullum hit 44 not out.
Rutherford had batted New Zealand into a position of strength at 267 for 3 - exactly 100 ahead of England's first innings of 167 - when he became the first of three victims of James Anderson's new ball spell in the second session.
Ross Taylor followed for 31 and Dean Brownlie for 27, then Stuart Broad bowled both BJ Watling (0) and Tim Southee (25) as England claimed five wickets for 103 in the first 20 overs of the new ball, slightly weakening New Zealand's position.
McCullum's partnerships of 44 for the seventh wicket with Southee and 32, unbroken, with Bruce Martin (16 not out) for the eighth wicket restored some of that command, though rain has stolen time from New Zealand to force a result in the first match of a three-Test series. Day one was entirely washed out.
The 23-year-old Rutherford batted for five hours and 40 minutes, hit 22 fours and three sixes in an outstanding debut innings. He featured in only the fifth century partnership involving a New Zealand player on Test debut and the first since Rodney Redmond achieved the feat with Glenn Turner in 1973.
"It won't sink in until I get home and have a good, wee lie down," Rutherford said. "There was just a lot of relief [to reach 100]. It's very special to do it here in front of my home fans and family and friends," the debutant said.
Among those watching was Rutherford's father, former New Zealand Test captain Ken Rutherford, who made a pair of ducks in his Test debut aged 19 in 1984.
"You are picked to do a job and that job is to score runs," Rutherford said. "The first 100 is very special. I've scored a few runs here [in Dunedin] this year, so I know what the surface is doing and the surroundings as well."
The only chance in Rutherford's innings came when he was 52 and he was dropped at point by Kevin Pietersen off Stuart Broad. The left-hander progressed easily through the morning, picking up runs with a variety of dabs into gaps on the leg side and confident drives in the arc from mid-off to cover.
He reached his hundred with a lavish cover drive for four off Steven Finn. First to congratulate him was his batting partner Williamson who was the last New Zealander to score a century on debut in 2011. Growing in confidence, Rutherford rushed past 150 with consecutive sixes over long-off from Panesar.
Fulton was never as comfortable as Rutherford but grafted his way to a half century - the second of his 11-Test career - from 153 balls. He was eventually out playing outside his off stump at a ball from Anderson which kept low, took an outside edge and carried to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Williamson was also content to support Rutherford, batting for 69 minutes for his 24 runs before being bowled by Panesar.
England took the new ball as soon as it was available in the 80th over and it bore immediate fruit when Rutherford chipped a loosening delivery from Anderson, pitched on leg stump, immediately to substitute Chris Woakes at midwicket.
Taylor and Brownlie added 43 in 10 overs before Taylor was caught at second slip by Jonathan Trott off Anderson and Brownlie followed 11 runs later, chopping a ball from Anderson onto his stumps. Wicketkeeper Watling was bowled by Broad with a ball which jagged back and to which he offered no shot.