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 were dismissed for 427 in the evening session and New Zealand reached 10 for one in the seven overs before stumps in their 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 on 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.
"We're in a pretty good position," Clarke said. "There's still enough there with the new ball."
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.
"It's nice to make some more runs," said Clarke, who has scored three centuries in his last six Test innings. "A bit of luck. Got dropped a couple of times, bowled off a no-ball — but good to make some more runs for Australia."
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 fifty, 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 108-Test veteran Vettori claiming 2-88 from 37 overs and Southee taking 2-103.
Bracewell's return of 1-104 from 26 overs could have been a lot more impressive, but for some dropped catches and some bad luck.
Clarke chopped onto his stumps when the Australian total was 140-3 late on Friday and was walking off the field when he was recalled for a no-ball after a review showed Bracewell had overstepped the crease.
On Saturday, wicketkeeper Reece Young put down a regulation caught-behind when Clarke was 85 and Ryder let a head-high catch through both hands at third slip when the Australian captain was on 105.
None of it seemed to bother Clarke, who stroked 19 boundaries and one six — a straight drive against Vettori which raised his 50 — in his 17th Test century.
Ponting's gritty innings certainly extended his Test career, but the former Australian captain's drought has now extended to 29 innings since his last Test hundred.
Vettori troubled the Australian batsmen in patches but caused more trouble for Young than anyone. The Test novice wicketkeeper was hit in the face by a ball which beat the edge of Clarke's bat and bounced sharply. McCullum deputized with the gloves while Young was off getting 12 stitches to a cut above his lip.