Clarke ton boosts Aussies
Michael Clarke defied recent personal problems to make 100 not out as Australia made a strong start against New Zealand in Wellington.
Last Updated: 20/03/10 7:59am
Michael Clarke defied his recent personal problems to compile an unbeaten hundred as Australia made a strong start to the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington.
Australia's vice-captain has endured a high-profile split from model Lara Bingle in recent weeks, but he did not let it affect his batting at the Basin Reserve.
Clarke may have taken a nervy 16 balls to get off the mark, but he then went on to make exactly 100 not out at the close as Australia moved on to 316-4 at stumps.
Marcus North was unbeaten on 52 alonsigde Clarke, after the pair had put on 140 runs together, while Simon Katich made 79.
Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat, but in the first two sessions New Zealand had largely been able to keep the Australians in check with some good tight, accurate bowling.
Seamer Brent Arnel had a debut to remember with the wickets of opener Phillip Hughes (20) and Katich, while Daniel Vettori and Daryl Tuffey kept things tight but remained wicket-less.
Arnel got the early breakthrough for the hosts, claiming the wicket of Hughes with only the fifth ball of his Test match career.
Hughes came in at the top of the order after all-rounder Shane Watson was a late withdrawal with a hip injury, but he edged one to slip after making 20 off 24 balls.
Ponting and Katich comfortably steered their side to 93 by lunch, but the Black Caps struck twice in the first hour of the afternoon session, getting the key wickets of Ponting for 41 and Michael Hussey for just four.
Ponting looked set for a big innings but was run out by BJ Watling when Katich called for a single off Arnel, only for the captain to be caught well short of the crease.
Watling was in the thick of the action again to remove Hussey when the left-hander, promoted to number four, edged a Chris Martin delivery to the slips.
Katich made some amends for running out his skipper to reach his 21st Test half-century, but after surviving two drops he was eventually out for 79 when he was trapped leg before by Arnel early in the final session.
Clarke and North showed plenty of patience but then cut loose to bring up their 100-run partnership before Clarke brought up his 14th Test hundred, which included 10 boundaries and two sixes.