Cameron Green tops green-top test to hold the fort for Australia on day 1 against New Zealand

An unbeaten century from Cameron Green elevated Australia’s position in a demanding first Test encounter with New Zealand at Basin Reserve in Wellington on Thursday, February 29. On a surface that thoroughly favored the bowlers, Green showcased resilience and class by notching up his second Test century amid a crumbling Australian batting lineup, taking the visitors to 79 for nine at stumps on day one.

The start of the day saw New Zealand captain Tim Southee win the toss and unhesitatingly put Australia into bat, envisaging the payoff from a pitch replete with seam assistance. The Kiwi pace battery, consisting of Southee, William O’Rourke, Scott Kuggeleijn, and Matt Henry, exploited the conditions masterfully, keeping the Australian batsmen under relentless scrutiny.

Australian hopes briefly glimmered with an opening partnership of 61 runs between Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja, followed by another significant stand of 67 runs for the fifth wicket between Green and Mitchell Marsh. Despite these partnerships, Australia’s batting order found solidarity elusive throughout the day’s play.

Smith, who had tallied a composed 31, seemed to be getting accustomed to the tricky pitch until Henry, with prodigious skill, induced an outswinger that breached his defenses. Smith’s wicket precipitated a decline that saw the tourists dwindle from 61 for one to an unsettling 89 for four.

Khawaja’s departure was even more spectacular, victim to what could be termed the delivery of the day. Falling behind on an ambitious drive, Khawaja failed to counter a masterful inswinging delivery from Henry, resulting in his middle stump being spectacularly uprooted, sending him back with a personal contribution of 33 runs.

With Smith promoted up the order, Green’s positioning in the middle demanded a stand-out performance to cement his role, and the day belonged to him. Green’s innings was marked by meticulous shot selection and temperance, particularly against the tempting deliveries cast outside his off stump.

The 24-year-old all-rounder batted with remarkable composure, undeterred by the regular loss of wickets at the opposite end. His undaunted spirit culminated in a boundary through the backward point region on the penultimate delivery of the day, heralding his hard-earned and much-cheered century.

The right-handed batsman, still not out, alongside Josh Hazlewood will undoubtedly aim to extend Australia’s tally significantly on the second day’s play.

The valiant century by Green on such a challenging surface underscores his growing stature as a mainstay in Australian cricket, particularly given the arduous circumstances. What remains to be seen is how the Australian tail-ender’s rally in support of Green’s vigil, and whether New Zealand’s bowlers can capitalize further on a pitch that has thus far been an ally in their quest for dominance.

The Basin Reserve, famed for its bowler-friendly conditions, lived up to its reputation, creating an intense battleground that left batsmen grappling for runs. The ebb and flow of the day’s play have set the stage for a duel where technique, patience, and strategy will be essential for both sides moving forward. With Australia hoping to construct a defendable scorecard and New Zealand looking to continue their bowling dominance, day two promises to be replete with tactical engagements and continued testimony to Test cricket’s enduring allure.

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