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Australia's Cameron Green in action during day one of the first Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Wellington: Cameron Green slammed only his second Test century Thursday to steer Australia to 279-9 at stumps on the opening day of the first Test in Wellington.

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The visitors were tottering on 89-4 after being put into bat at the Basin Reserve before Green dug in for a rescue mission with the help of Mitchell Marsh, who made 40.

The 24-year-old brought up three figures with his 16th four in the final over to end day one on 103 with Josh Hazlewood yet to score.

“Obviously it feels really good, mainly with where we were as a team,” Green said.

“It was a pretty tough wicket out there ... someone just needed to bat through so glad it was me. Was nice to stick it out there, and hopefully put a semi-competitive total on the board.”

Green, batting at number four, fought back after New Zealand seamer Matt Henry took the key wickets of Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja and Marsh to end with 4-43 on a green pitch.

Henry dismissed Smith for 31 before lunch, bowled Khawaja for 33 after the break then snagged Marsh and Nathan Lyon, for five.

Scott Kuggeleijn, restored to the side, also grabbed two wickets, removing out-of-form Marnus Labuschagne for one and Alex Carey for 10.

'Pretty close'

Black Caps rising star Will O’Rourke, who took nine wickets on his debut this month, bagged two more in the shape of Travis Head (1) and Mitchell Starc (9).

Green said the wicket would still offer plenty for the Australian quick bowlers on Friday.

“It’s pretty close, I reckon they are just on top,” he said. “They have a quality batting line-up and we have to bowl well tomorrow.”

Marsh and Green offered the resistance with a 67-run partnership off 77 balls.

But Marsh succumbed to Henry, caught behind by Tom Blundell, before Carey meekly slapped a Kuggeleijn delivery to Kane Williamson at cover.

With stumps beckoning, New Zealand attacked Australia’s tail with Starc, Pat Cummins and Lyon dismissed in the space of 57 runs.

After winning the toss, Tim Southee and New Zealand’s pace bowlers were frustrated by Smith and Khawaja as they put on 61 before Henry got the breakthrough.

Diving catch

Smith, promoted to open for the second Test in a row after the retirement of David Warner, lasted 71 deliveries, crunching four boundaries.

Henry induced him to play back to a delivery that nipped and took the edge, with Blundell collecting a sharp diving catch in front of first slip.

Labuschagne departed after a defensive knock, getting a thick outside edge to Daryl Mitchell at slip off Kuggeleijn, with Khawaja and Head following in quick succession.

Henry’s inswinger took out the stump of Khawaja before Head went after O’Rourke’s but clipped the ball to Blundell.

Marsh crashed six fours and a six before Henry struck again straight after tea, with Australia’s Twenty20 skipper attempting a pull shot that landed in Blundell’s gloves.

Carey departed for 10 to leave Australia on 176-6 before O’Rourke had Starc caught at second slip.

Cummins was trapped lbw by spinner Rachin Ravindra with Henry taking his fourth when Lyon was also caught behind.

New Zealand are looking for a first Test victory over Australia since 2011 and came into the two-match series on the back of a 2-0 sweep against South Africa this month.