Wellington, Mar. 19 (ANI): Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke has returned to the Test team in emphatic style scoring his 14th Test hundred against New Zealand in Wellington.
Clarke (100 not out) put aside his broken engagement to celebrity model Lara Bingle to help Australia to a comfortable 4/316 at stumps.
Western Australian left-hander Marcus North, whose position in the team was under intense scrutiny, is 52 not out after sharing in an unbeaten partnership of 140 with Clarke..
Earlier, opener Simon Katich got Australia off to a solid start, scoring a typically gritty 79 before being trapped LBW by debutant Brent Arnel
Katich, who hit eight fours and one six, was lucky not to be out caught behind on 68 off Tim Southee’s bowling and again next over he gave a chance to mid-on from spinner Daniel Vettori on 70.
Ricky Ponting was run out soon after lunch for 41 after a mix-up with Katich, who pushed a ball to cover and the skipper hesitated before falling well short of his ground at the striker’s end.
Katich, who appeared to be the one who called, threw his head back in disappointment at his role in the key dismissal and Ponting was furious as he departed.
Mike Hussey (4) was caught in slips off Chris Martin’s bowling, making it 3-115.
After the dramatic and last-minute withdrawal of opener Shane Watson, Australia reached 1-93 at lunch.
Watson pulled out with a hip injury after a bruise inflicted by Kiwi paceman Shane Bond during the one-day international series developed into a muscle strain.
The 21-year-old Hughes, playing his seventh Test, slashed a wide ball from debutant seamer Brent Arnel to slip in the sixth over.
Hughes hit four boundaries and faced only 24 deliveries.
Team physio Alex Kountouris said it was hoped Watson would be available for the second Test in Hamilton starting on March 27.
Kountouris said Watson was struck on the hip/backside area during the fourth one-day international against New Zealand in Auckland on March 11.
He said Watson played the fifth ODI game two days later in Wellington and felt only mild discomfort.
Australia named Victorian quick Clint McKay as 12th man while spinner Jeetan Patel will carry the drinks for the Black Caps.
Australia: Rick Ponting (capt), Simon Katich, Phillip Hughes, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger, Clint McKay (12th man).
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (capt), Tim McIntosh, BJ Watling, Peter Ingram, Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Daryl Tuffey, Tim Southee, Brent Arnel, Chris Martin, Jeetan Patel (12th man). (ANI)