Cameron Green's century has Australia at 279-9 on Day 1 of 1st test against New Zealand

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The sun came out around lunchtime at the Basin Reserve on Thursday. Its appearance at first breathed life into New Zealand’s bowling performance on the first day of the first cricket test against Australia.

Then the tall West Australian Cameron Green took the upper hand for Australia with an unbeaten 103, reaching his second test century in the last over of the day. At stumps Australia was 279-9 and Green appeared to have wrested control of the match from New Zealand at the last minute.

Green was reluctant to say so.

“The match is pretty close,” Green said. “They’re probably just on top. They’ve got a quality batting lineup and we’ve got to bowl well tomorrow. It’s a lot about the overhead conditions and we’ve got to wake up tomorrow and see how the overheads are.”

New Zealand had bowled unproductively on a cool, overcast morning and Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja had looked like carrying Australia to lunch without loss after it had sent in on a green pitch.

As the sun broke through the clouds and began to warm a capacity crowd at the inner-city oval, New Zealand’s luck changed. After going 24 overs without a breakthrough in the morning, Matt Henry dismissed Smith (31) 10 minutes before lunch.

Marnus Labuschagne (1) fell just after the resumption, then Khawaja (33) and Travis Head (1) were out as Australia slipped from 61-0 to 89-4.

Mitch Marsh and Green counter-attacked with a partnership of 67 for the fifth wicket before and directly after tea. Marsh made 40 from 39 balls with six fours and a six but he also fell to Henry. Green went on to turn the tide of the first day with his century from 154 balls. He lashed three late boundaries to do so, reaching his century from the penultimate ball of the day.

When the covers came off at the Basin Reserve about 8 a.m. Thursday after light rain overnight and in the early morning, the pitch looked bright green and moist. With the two teams captained by faster bowlers in a rarity for test cricket it was inevitable the team that won the toss would bowl.

Pat Cummins called tails, it was a head and Tim Southee said New Zealand would field, saving his batters from the need to face Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc and what looked like a green seamer.

As it turned out, the pitch was not as lively as it appeared, at least at first. There was a bit of grass to aid seam, a little swing in overcast conditions but not as much pace at it might have seemed.

Smith and Khawaja were bent on surviving the morning, not too concerned with runs and they came within minutes of doing before Henry struck just at the sun began to shine.

Henry had Smith caught by wicketkeeper Tom Blundell with a good length ball that just left the batter, sending Blundell diving across first slip. Australia went to lunch at 62-1 and New Zealand may have felt the morning was less productive than it should have been.

The bowlers settled into more productive lengths after lunch and used variations more effectively which resulted in the quick wickets of Labuschagne, Khawaja and Head.

O’Rourke dismissed Head, first setting him up with a series of fuller balls then catching him out with a shorter one going across him which he followed and guided to Blundell.

Starc (9) and Cummins (16) fell before the second new ball which was taken in the last half hour. Hazlewood (0) will join Green on Friday morning as Australia attempts to add late runs to its total.

___

AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket