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1st Test, Wellington, February 29 - March 03, 2024, Australia tour of New Zealand
383 & 164
(T:369) 179 & 196

Australia won by 172 runs

Player Of The Match
174*, 34 & 1/16

Green's masterful century lifts Australia in challenging conditions

Battling cramp, and a Matt Henry-inspired NZ attack on a green pitch in Wellington, the allrounder held his team together in style

Australia 279 for 9 (Green 103*, Marsh 40, Henry 4-43) vs New Zealand
Cameron Green stamped himself as Australia's No. 4 with a brilliant century to defy New Zealand's all-out pace attack on a challenging surface in Wellington on a compelling opening day of the first Test.
In just his fourth innings after being recalled into the team, Green pushed through cramps and reached his second Test ton with a boundary through backward point on the second last ball before stumps. He put a tiring New Zealand attack to the sword late on to finish unbeaten on 103 from 155 balls.
In their first Test in New Zealand since 2016, Australia's rocky innings endured a collapse of 4 for 28, including failures to Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head, after a half-century opening partnership between Usman Khawaja and Steven Smith.
But a 67-run stand between Green and Mitchell Marsh, who counterpunched with 40 off 39 balls, steadied Australia who ended the opening day of the two-match series satisfied with their comeback after being sent in.
Green had made an anxious start before settling and mixed strong defence with attractive drives. He also was inventive and countered Matt Henry's prodigious movement by shuffling down the crease.
Green, who bats at No. 4 for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield, reached his half-century in risky fashion when he almost offered a return catch to Tim Southee as the ball went through his hands and sped to the boundary.
The decision to shoehorn Green into the line-up after David Warner's retirement, and also prepare for this series in the Shield rather than playing T20 cricket, has been vindicated.
Relentlessly bowling outside the off-stump, Henry exploited the pitch well and his standout performance of 4 for 43 from 20 overs was highlighted by a spectacular delivery to knock over Khawaja's middle stump.
The notably green surface quickened up as the day wore on and there was also uneven bounce as Will O'Rourke continued his strong start to Test cricket with potent short-pitched bowling that jumped off a length.
New Zealand, having only beaten Australia once from 29 Test matches since 1993, stuck with a seam heavy attack by including Scott Kuggeleijn and deciding against recalling left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner.
Australia went in unchanged from the side that suffered a shock eight-run defeat against West Indies at the Gabba last month, sticking with the same frontline attack for the sixth straight Test.
In a new era after the retirement of firebrand Neil Wagner, who did re-emerge later in the day as a substitute fielder, New Zealand's new-look quicks looked to make early inroads against a rejigged Australia top-order still settling into place following the departure of Warner.
Continuing a long trend of captains electing to bowl at Basin Reserve, Southee had no hesitation to send Australia in amid overcast conditions.
With a gusty breeze behind him, Henry bowled a probing six-over spell with the new ball and was locked in a compelling battle of patience with Khawaja.
In his first Test innings as an opener away from home, Smith started nervously before a trademark cover drive to the boundary off a rare loose Southee delivery came as a confidence boost. But having been devoid of the strike, Smith became noticeably edgy again and set off for a risky single only for Khawaja to send him back as he scrambled to the non-striker's end. Australia appeared poised to make it through the first session unscathed before Smith, his third Test since shifting up the order, nicked off to Henry to end on 31 off 71 as New Zealand carried the momentum into the second session.
A hesitant Labuschagne was worked over after lunch by Kuggeleijn, who had been hustling into the crease, and he produced an outside edge that was well caught by Daryl Mitchell low to his left at first slip. Having made just 1 off 27 balls, Labuschagne trudged off visibly disappointed as his lean patch continued.
Head has recently been feast or famine at Test level and was relieved to get off the mark with a single after a king pair against West Indies at the Gabba. But he did not add to his tally after being undone by the extra pace of O'Rourke to be caught behind off the shoulder of the bat.
Marsh was undaunted by Australia's predicament and started with a first-ball boundary as he continued his remarkable rejuvenation at Test level. He halted New Zealand's charge before miscuing a pull shot off Henry straight after tea with Alex Carey dismissed shortly after.
Australia were in danger of being bowled out for under 200 before Green took control with a statement innings to leave the contest intriguingly poised.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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