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Michael Clarke ton puts Australia on top in Wellington

First Test, Wellington (day one): Australia 316-4 v New Zealand
Match scorecard


Michael Clarke celebrates hitting a century
Clarke hit his 14th Tst century featuring 10 boundaries and two sixes

Michael Clarke brushed aside his off-field issues to put Australia in a strong position after day one of the first Test against New Zealand.

The 28-year-old, who recently split from fiancée and model Lara Bingle, was 100 not out as the tourists piled on 316-4 in Wellington.

Clarke shared an unbeaten 140-run stand with Marcus North (52 not out), while Simon Katich (79) also impressed.

Debutant Brett Arnel (2-70) was the pick of New Zealand's bowlers.

But despite a disciplined bowling display from the hosts on a benign Basin Reserve pitch, the day inevitably belonged to Clarke.

Having only rejoined his team-mates at the start of the week after returning from Sydney following the break-up of his high-profile relationship with Bingle, the Australia vice-captain batted with assurance and maturity to guide Australia from 115-3 to their commanding position at the end of day one.

Despite a cautious start, making nine from 45 deliveries at tea, Clarke cut loose after the interval, bringing up his 14th Test hundred 96 deliveries later as he tore New Zealand's bowlers to shreds, smashing 10 boundaries and two sixes.

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting won the toss and elected to bat first and was soon out in the middle when opener Phillip Hughes - a replacement for the injured Shane Watson - become Arnel's first Test wicket when he edged a catch to Ross Taylor at slip.

Ponting and Katich steadied the innings with a stand of 79 before the skipper was run out in the afternoon session following BJ Watling's direct underarm throw.

606: DEBATE
Slowie

Watling was also involved in Mike Hussey's dismissal when the left-hander edged a Chris Martin delivery to the slips to leave Australia faltering at 115-3.

Despite his predictions of a hostile reception from home fans, Clarke was given a warm reception from the Wellington crowd when he joined Katich at the crease.

Katich was handed two reprieves when he was dropped on 68 by wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum and Darryl Tuffey, but eventually fell 21 runs short runs short of a century when he was trapped lbw by Arnel.

But Clarke and North soon put the tourists in a commanding position as the hosts toiled in the late afternoon sunshine, with both men bringing up their respective milestones in the final two overs of the day.

"It's a very special feeling anytime you make a hundred but it's been a tough couple of weeks and the support I've had from my family, friends, team-mates... and Lara as well has been tremendous," said Clarke, who had dominated headlines on both sides of the Tasman Sea before the first Test.

"Without her and her support I certainly wouldn't have been back over. To my family and friends who have supported me and Lara I thank them very much."



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see also
Clarke named in Aussie Test squad
10 Mar 10 |  Australia
Sinclair recalled by New Zealand
14 Mar 10 |  New Zealand
Haddin ton sets up Australia win
09 Mar 10 |  Cricket
Aussies level series in Auckland
06 Mar 10 |  Cricket
New Zealand edge past Australia
03 Mar 10 |  Cricket
Australia cruise to Twenty20 win
26 Feb 10 |  Cricket
Australia in New Zealand 2010
31 Mar 10 |  Cricket
Clarke appointed Twenty20 skipper
16 Oct 09 |  Australia


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