Brisbane: Australian skipper Michael Clarke made New Zealand pay for a crucial dropped catch as he closed in on his 17th Test century on the third day of the opening Test at the Gabba on Saturday. (Agencies)
Australia put on 100 runs in the extended morning session and were 254 for five at lunch, 41 runs short of the Black Caps' first innings 295 with Clarke unbeaten on 99 and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on two.
Clarke, who was bowled off an inside edge on 23 late Friday only to get a reprieve when Doug Bracewell was found to have overstepped for a no-ball, survived another big moment on 85 some 30 minutes before lunch.
He edged Bracewell straight into Reece Young's gloves only for the wicketkeeper to bumble the chance in a major let-off for the Australian captain.
But on the next ball, Mike Hussey was caught bat-pad by Jesse Ryder off spinner Daniel Vettori for 15, leaving Australia trailing the Kiwis by 58 runs with five wickets intact.
Clarke, who raised his 22nd Test half-century with a straight-hit six off Vettori, had faced 161 balls at lunch with 13 fours and a six.
Earlier, Ricky Ponting, seeking his first Test century in almost two years, fell for 78 lbw to Chris Martin, 30 minutes into the third day.
Umpire Aleem Dar gave him out but Ponting called for a review by the video umpire, who confirmed the original decision.
The former skipper hit 12 boundaries off 140 balls and put on 86 runs for the fourth wicket with Clarke.
Ponting, whose last big innings was 209 against Pakistan in Hobart in January last year, narrowly avoided being run out before he had scored and he also survived a video referee's
referral for lbw on 63 on Friday.
Martin had taken 2-54 off 17 overs with the unlucky Bracewell going wicketless for 73 runs.
Brisbane: Australian skipper Michael Clarke made New Zealand pay for a crucial dropped catch as he closed in on his 17th Test century on the third day of the opening Test at the Gabba on Saturday.