Michael Clarke (100 batting) and Marcus North (52 batting) helped Australia finish the first day of the first Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve on 316 for four.

Clarke showed few effects of the break-up of his engagement during his 261-minute stay in which he struck 10 fours and two sixes.

North, who has been the subject of scrutiny because of a dip in form, gave Clarke the support he needed to wrest the initiative from the home side in the final session.

Simon Katich earlier made 79 before becoming debutant fast-bowler Brent Arnel's second victim. Phillip Hughes, who replaced an injured Shane Watson at the top of the order, was Arnel's first Test wicket.

Katich featured in partnerships of 79 with captain Ricky Ponting and 61 with Clarke. New Zealand fought back in the middle session, controlled Australia's rate of scoring and picked up two wickets.

But Clarke and North turned things around, scoring at nearly five an over during their unbroken 140-run partnership and justifying their captain's decision to bat.

Australia — 1st innings: P. Hughes c Taylor b Arnel 20, S. Katich lbw b Arnel 79, R. Ponting (run out) 41, M. Hussey c Watling b Martin 4, M. Clarke (batting) 100, M. North (batting) 52; Extras (b-2, lb-12, nb-4, w-2): 20. Total (for four wkts. in 90 overs): 316.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-104, 3-115, 4-176.

New Zealand bowling: Martin 19-1-63-1, Southee 13-2-55-0, Arnel 20-3-70-2, Tuffey 16-6-35-0, Vettori 21-2-69-0, Guptill 1-0-10-0.


Ponting's men unlikely to be distracted March 18, 2010

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