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Green stands tall with breakthrough ton while wickets tumble as Aussies crumble against Black Caps pace attack

29th February, 2024
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29th February, 2024
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Cameron Green stood up to be counted with a brilliant century to rescue Australia’s innings on day one of the first Test against New Zealand while also silencing critics of his controversial recall to No.4 in the order.

Green reached triple figures on the last over of the day after he thumped Will O’Rourke for three boundaries to lift the visitors to a modest 9-279 after the Black Caps bowlers dominated proceedings.

The 24-year-old all-rounder went from 50 to his ton in 46 deliveries and will resume on 103 on Friday with Josh Hazlewood yet to open his account at the other end.

Green hit 16 fours in his 155-ball stay at the crease to register just his second century in his 27th Test and first since his recent Test recall with the only other one coming in India nearly 12 months ago.

“It feels really good. It was a pretty tough wicket out there. It was just one of those days where somebody needed to bat through and I was glad it was me,” he said.

“It was nice to stick out there and hopefully put a semi-competitive total on the board.

“I didn’t really feel I had the ebb and flow … it was quite tough when I went out there and even on a flat wicket I still take time to get in.

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“Probably equally as relieving as my first (century). Mainly proud of pulling the team to a reasonable total.”

Putting his hand up for Sheffield Shield duties last week, Green played with Western Australia at Bellerive Oval, scoring a game-saving second innings century alongside former Test player Cameron Bancroft.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 29: Cameron Green of Australia bats during day one of the First Test in the series between New Zealand and Australia at Basin Reserve on February 29, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Cameron Green bats during day one of the First Test in Wellington. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

“It was really important,” he said. “I probably struggled to have the red-ball practice leading in, it’s been always one or two net sessions and then thrown into the deep.

“That’s what international cricket is like at the moment … so it’s always nice to spend some time out in the middle before a Test series.”

New Zealand’s all-pace attack ripped through Australia’s top order, giving the Black Caps a firm foothold in the first Test in Wellington.

Led by Matt Henry’s four-wicket haul, New Zealand have the upper hand after opting for a four-pronged pace attack with second-gamers Will O’Rourke and Scott Kuggeleijn also backing up captain Tim Southee after he sent Australia in after winning the toss.

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They found themselves on the back foot when Steve Smith (31) fell to Henry just prior to lunch as Australia limped to 1-62 at the main break.

The Kiwi bowlers upped their attack after the interval, with Henry, Kuggeleijn and O’Rourke all taking wickets in a damaging hour.

On Australia’s first Test tour of New Zealand in eight years, the Black Caps revelled in conditions they know all too well – a fresh southerly breeze in the Kiwi capital, overcast conditions and a green-tinged pitch.

Henry was the chief tormentor, fizzing the ball at a good length and forcing Australia’s batters to make tough decisions with every delivery.

Smith was his first victim, defending to a ball which moved off the pitch and edging to wicketkeeper Tom Blundell, who moved well to his right to take the catch.

Marnus Labuschagne (one) followed shortly after the break having barely troubled the scorers, edging Kuggeleijn to first slip with another that deviated from the pitch.

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It was Labuschagne’s fifth failure in a row after four scores of 10 runs or fewer against West Indies.

After dogged resistance on a tough day, Usman Khawaja (33 off 118 deliveries) fell from a Henry change-up.

The 32-year-old ripped an inswinger that crashed through Khawaja’s defence and bowled him.

When Travis Head (one) followed – caught behind off O’Rourke – the very next over, Australia were rocking at 4-89 with two new batters at the crease.

Green and Mitchell Marsh put together’s Australia’s best partnership, upping the run rate as well courtesy of Marsh, who struck half-a-dozen boundaries and a six.

“It was exactly what we needed at the time to put some pressure back on them … it put them on the back foot,” Green said.

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - FEBRUARY 29: Travis Head of Australia bats during day one of the First Test in the series between New Zealand and Australia at Basin Reserve on February 29, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Travis Head fell cheaply on day one of the First Test in Wellington. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

But he fell to Henry for 40 from 39 when a pull shot ballooned in the air no further than Blundell’s gloves and when Alex Carey departed to Kuggieleijn for 10, the Aussies were 6-176.

The tail didn’t contribute many runs but stuck around long enough for Green to up the scoring ante and surge to his century.

Mitchell Starc made nine in a 35-run stand, Pat Cummins added 16 in a 33-run partnership and Nathan Lyon contributed five as 23 more runs were added before falling to the last ball of the penultimate over of the day.

Green was nine shy of his ton and after blasting two boundaries, cut a short ball away to the rope at point to reach his milestone off the second-last delivery of the day.

New Zealand might rue missing taking a fifth wicket when they were well on top after lunch.

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“That’s international cricket … it all comes down to moments of pressure and absorbing them and they absorb that pressure,” Henry said.

“To have them nine down, it’s a great position but we’ve still got a job to do in the morning.”

Cummins said he would have made the same call to bowl first if he had won the toss. “We were going to bowl but not too upset with that,” he said at the time.

New Zealand, who have won their past five Tests at the Basin Reserve, are hunting a first home Test win over Australia in 31 years.   

with AAP

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