Black Caps - 176/5

Dean Brownlie 32

Daniel Vettori 45

Overs - 51

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Last batsman out - Ryder bowled Starc caught by Warner 6

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Former skipper Daniel Vettori steadied New Zealand's innings with an unbeaten 45 before bad light forced an early break for tea on day one of the first cricket test against Australia.

New Zealand slumped to 96-5 when Jesse Ryder was dismissed by Mitchell Starc in the over following lunch Thursday, but 108-test veteran Vettori combined with Dean Brownlie (32 not out) in an 80-run, sixth-wicket stand to lift the total to 176-5.

With dark clouds causing deteriorating light at the Gabba, and thunder storms in the forecast, umpires decided to leave the field after 51 overs.

Starc had the best of the Australians figures at 2-52 from 13 overs. He took the only wicket after lunch, although Michael Clarke and David Warner both put down catches off Brownlie.

Brownlie was on three when he edged to Clarke, who put down a routine chance at slip from Peter Siddle's bowling. In the next over, Brownlie miscued a cut to point, where Warner got both hands to the ball but couldn't stop it skidding to the boundary. The New Zealand batsman inside edged a good-length ball from Starc millimeters past his off stump in a french cut to the boundary to beat 12.

After that, the New Zealand batsmen settled down and the rash shots that characterized the hour before and just after lunch diminished.

Vettori faced 66 balls and hit three boundaries, but kept the tempo rolling with singles and twos.

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Australia's most inexperienced bowling attack in decades was put to work immediately when Ross Taylor won the toss and elected to bat Thursday, and responded to some early aggression from Brendon McCullum (34) to have New Zealand reeling at 94-4 at lunch.

All three Australians on test debut contributed in the first session, with Starc and James Pattinson each getting a wicket and opening batsman Warner holding a sharp catch to remove McCullum from Starc's bowling.

McCullum gave Pattinson a contemptuous welcome to test cricket when he crashed three boundaries in the first over.

But after a loose start the pace trio rallied and Siddle, leading the attack in just his 26th test, broke the 44-run opening stand when he had Martin Guptill (13) caught behind in the 11th over.

Left-armer Starc was introduced in the 8th over and troubled the batsmen with some extra bounce and swing, hitting McCullum in the body and helmet before eventually removing the New Zealand opener, who hit seven boundaries before angling an attempted cut shot straight to Warner at point in the 16th over.

Taylor made a nervy start to only his second test as New Zealand captain, getting off the mark when he slashed Starc over the slips for four and then getting a huge reprieve in the next over when Usman Khawaja put down a regulation catch at short leg from Pattinson's bowling.

Khawaja composed himself to hold a simple bat-pad offering from Kane Williams (19) in spinner Nathan Lyon's third over ever at the Gabba as the New Zealanders slumped to 78 for three.

After enduring some early punishment, Pattinson finally claimed his first test wicket when Taylor (13) irresponsibly dragged a ball back onto his leg stump five minutes before lunch.

The Australians were playing with a new-look attack after five front-line players were ruled out with injuries last week, including pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson and allrounder Shane Watson.

Skipper Clarke is leading Australia into test series on home soil for the first time after tours to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and New Zealand, while Mickey Arthur only joined the team last weekend as head coach.

The former South Africa coach is the first foreigner to guide Australia's national team.

Follow ball-by-ball coverage and audio commentary throughout the series.
TEAMS:
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, Dean Brownlie, Reece Young, Daniel Vettori, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Chris Martin.

Australia: Phillip Hughes, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.

- HERALD ONLINE / AP