Daryl Mitchell and debutant Hamish Rutherford scored centuries for Worcestershire who prospered on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Leicestershire at the Fischer County Ground.

Mitchell continued where he left off last season by making 114 before he was dismissed in the first over after the tea interval.

His 35th century for the County came off 169 balls with 16 boundaries.

He featured in a partnership of 166 with New Zealander Rutherford who went to three figures in the second over with the second new ball from 182 deliveries with 17 fours.

Worcestershire players are making a habit of scoring a century on their County red ball debut with Martin Guptill and Alex Milton also achieving the feat in 2018.

Rutherford is the 10th player to clock up that milestone and he ended unbeaten on 116 out of 348-4 from 96 overs.

Riki Wessels (43) was also in good touch on his Worcestershire debut.

Rutherford said: “That was a really good day for us. It could quite easily have gone the other way because the ball was moving around in the first hour especially, but the openers put in a really great shift.

“Then the partnership between myself and Daryl was pretty special, and has put us in a great position moving on.

“There’s still a little bit there for the bowlers, so the first half hour or so tomorrow morning will be important. We’ll look to re-establish ourselves and then really kick on.”

Acting skipper and new red ball vice-captain Ben Cox opted for a toss and Worcestershire were put into bat and Tom Fell and Mitchell posted the County’s first half century stand of the campaign.

A majestic cover drive for four by Fell off Ben Mike brought up the Worcestershire fifty in the 16th over.

The stand was broken when Will Davis hit the top of Fell’s middle stump with the total on 59 of which he made 28.

Five more runs were added when Brett D’Oliveira (0) was dismissed second ball with Colin Ackermann taking a good catch at second slip off Ben Mike.

Overseas signing Rutherford quickly showed his class with a cover drive for four at Davis’s expense – the first of many superb strokes.

He arrived at Blackfinch New Road after a successful season in red ball and white ball cricket for Otago where he played alongside Cox in the Super Smash.

Mitchell continued to accumulate in effective manner with two boundaries through the cover region off Mike.

By lunch he had and Rutherford (23 not out) had taken the total onto 104-2 from 28 overs.

The pair continued to score freely during the afternoon session and Mitchell dug out a ball of full length from Tom Taylor to pick up three runs and complete his fifty from 100 balls.

In the process he also raised the half century stand with Rutherford from 73 deliveries.

The third wicket duo encountered few problems and Rutherford turned Ackerman through mid wicket to bring up his half century from 80 balls with nine fours.

Mitchell’s ton arrived soon afterwards with a single off Ackermann and the first bonus point of 2019 was secured with the 200 going up on the board.

He lasted only three balls of the final session before pushing forward to Ackermann and nicking to Paul Horton at slip. Mitchell faced 212 balls in total and hit 18 fours.

His dismissal brought Wessels to the wicket and he looked in good nick and greeted the second new ball with three fours in an over from Chris Wright.

It was then the turn of Rutherford to celebrate reaching his century as he drove Taylor straight back down the ground for four.

Wessels and Rutherford added 86 in just 19.4 overs before the former went back onto his stumps and was lbw to Mike.

By the close Rutherford had totalled 19 fours from 221 balls at the crease with Ross Whiteley unbeaten on 18.