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Australia saved by Cameron Green's century in opening Test against New Zealand.
Cricket Sport

Australia saved by Cameron Green’s century in opening Test against New Zealand.

Cameron Green’s defiant century spared Australia’s blushes in the first Test against New Zealand, holding the line and pushing Australia through to stumps at 279-9 on the opening day. Matt Henry led an all-pace assault on a green Basin Reserve wicket in Wellington on Thursday, taking 4-43 and troubling Australian batsmen across all three sessions.

Green was the only player from the Australian team able to score fifty runs without getting out, ending the day with an undefeated score of 103. This prevented the New Zealand team from being able to take all of the Australian players out during the first day of the match. Green entered the final over of his turn at bat with a score of 91 and quickly hit two fours against Will O’Rourke, bringing his total to 99.

In the second to last delivery of the day, the 24-year-old allrounder managed to hit a four, earning his second Test hundred. This was his best innings in a year and a highly impactful moment in his career. Despite a shaky start with the score at 89-4, Green and Mitch Marsh (40) worked together to stabilize the Australian team on the first day of the highly awaited series.

Australia might have the upper hand at the end of the first day, as they were chosen to bat by New Zealand captain Tim Southee and took a hit at 4-28 before and after lunch. In their first Test visit to New Zealand in eight years, the Black Caps thrived in familiar conditions – a cool southerly wind in the capital city, cloudy skies, and a pitch with a hint of green.

Henry was the chief tormentor, fizzing the ball at a good length and forcing Australia’s batters to make tough decisions with every delivery. Steve Smith was his first victim, caught behind defending a ball that deviated off the pitch as Australia limped to 62-1 at lunch.

At the start of the break, Marnus Labuschagne (one) was dismissed with minimal impact on the score, caught by first slip off a similar delivery from Scott Kuggeleijn. This marks Labuschagne’s fifth consecutive unsuccessful performance, following four scores of 10 runs or less during the West Indies series at home.

After putting up a stubborn fight, Usman Khawaja (33 runs off 118 balls) was defeated by a change-up from Henry, as the 32-year-old bowled a devastating inswinger that broke through his defense and knocked over his stumps. The next over saw the dismissal of Travis Head (1 run) who was caught behind by O’Rourke, adding to the chaos as Australia lost 4 wickets for 28 runs and had two fresh batters at the crease.

Marsh and Green reacted by forming the strongest partnership for Australia, increasing the rate of runs thanks to Marsh’s contribution of a 40-run score with six boundaries and a six in just one ball. Despite cheaply losing Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, and Pat Cummins – with the latter being dismissed by makeshift bowler Rachin Ravindra – Green persevered and helped raise Australia’s total score to over 250.

In only their second Test matches, O’Rourke (2-59) and Kuggeleijn (2-56) performed well in supporting roles for experienced pacers Henry and Southee. Santner, the spinner, was not chosen for this match. The New Zealand team, who have been victorious in their last five Tests at the Basin Reserve, are hoping to achieve their first home Test victory against Australia in 31 years.

Source: theguardian.com