SA refuse to lie down

2008-12-26 00:00

MELBOURNE — South Africa’s waiting game with the ball paid dividends as they reduced Australia to 280 for six at stumps on the first day of the second Test at the MCG yesterday.

South Africa’s tactic of sticking to a line outside off stump called for Australia, 1-0 down in the series, to chase the game, but captain Ricky Ponting was the only batsman able to score at a fair lick for a prolonged period of time.

Ponting scored a marvellous 101, featuring an awesome flicked six over fine-leg off Morne Morkel and a series of superb drives straight down the ground.

But he was dismissed in the over before tea as a defensive push against left-arm spinner Paul Harris landed in the hands of Hashim Amla at short-leg, via the shoulder of the bat and the pad.

It meant Australia went into the break on 184 for four and South Africa then turned the screws as Harris and Morkel conceded just 18 runs in 10 overs, the pressure telling on Andrew Symonds as he cut at Morkel and was brilliantly caught by Jacques Kallis for 27.

Brad Haddin came in and scored a dashing 40 before Makhaya Ntini removed him in the penultimate over of the day, an ambitious drive being edged to first slip, where Graeme Smith also held on to a sharp catch.

Another enthralling day ended with Michael Clarke on a doughty but dour 36, with Brett Lee yet to get off the mark.

Ponting’s sparkling strokeplay brought him 10 fours and a six as he produced another MCG classic, but his dismissal ended a good second session for South Africa, in which they captured three wickets.

While Clarke had left a number of deliveries outside off stump, Simon Katich (54) and Michael Hussey (0) were less effective when it came to countering South Africa’s strategy.

South Africa had a great chance to remove Ponting in the over before lunch. The Australian captain had tried to leave a delivery from Steyn, but was too late in withdrawing his bat, the ball coming off the middle and going to Neil McKenzie at third slip. McKenzie had two goes at the golden opportunity but spilled a regulation chance.

Australia had won the toss and chosen to bat and, with queues of people filing into the massive MCG, Katich and Matthew Hayden gave Australia a solid start.

Hayden, who has a top-class record at the MCG, had not played at any of the juicy sucker balls dished up to him in the first half-hour, but Ntini once again had the great left-hander’s number as a sliced drive at a full, wide delivery landed in the safe hands of JP Duminy at backward point. — News24.

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