Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Aussies on top after Clarke ton

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BRISBANE: Michael Clarke posted his first century as Test captain on home soil in a chance-filled 139 on Saturday, guiding Australia to a 132-run first-innings lead on day three against New Zealand.

Clarke had three reprieves – on 23, 85 and 105 – all against unlucky 21-year-old paceman Doug Bracewell, before he was finally out pulling a Chris Martin ball to Tim Southee in the outfield five balls after tea.

Australia was dismissed for 427 in the evening session and New Zealand reached 10 for one in the seven overs before stumps in its second innings.

Brendon McCullum, who got New Zealand’s first innings off to a flyer with three boundaries off James Pattinson in the first over of the match, paid the price for being more conservative in the second dig. He was out for one in the last over Saturday, fending the Test rookie paceman to Ricky Ponting at second slip.

Martin Guptill was not out on seven, with night watchman Bracewell yet to score.

Clarke shared an 86-run stand with ex-captain Ponting (78) after Australia resumed at 154-3 on Saturday, then put on 60 for the fifth wicket with Mike Hussey (15) as Australia lost two wickets in the morning session. He added 108 for the sixth with Brad Haddin (80) in a wicketless middle session before running out of luck after the second interval.

Clarke is leading Australia for only the seventh time, and the sixth since replacing Ponting after the World Cup quarterfinal exit in March.

He got a light pat on the back from Martin as he departed, the dismissal sparking a mini-collpase as No. 8 Peter Siddle (0) edged Vettori to slip with no addition to the total and Pattinson (12) edged to Ross Taylor again at slip to give Bracewell his first Test wicket in Australia.

Bracewell missed out again in his 23rd over when Taylor put down a regulation chance off Mitchell Starc before the No. 10 batsman had scored. Starc went on to score an unbeaten 32 before he ran out of partners.

Haddin was the ninth wicket to fall. After clouting Martin straight down the ground for six to bring up his 10th Test 50, he batted diligently with a longer Australian tail than usual before hitting part-timer Martin Guptill to long-on, where Martin took a good catch to end a 145-ball, career-prolonging innings which contained six boundaries and two sixes.

Veteran paceman Martin led the bowling with 3-89, with Vettori claiming 2-88 from 37 overs. (Agencies)

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