Cricket: Australia slip after fine start

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Matthew Elliott yesterday scored his first century of the summer before New Zealand checked Australia's smooth progress in the third Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. After Elliott, 114, and Greg Blewett, dismissed for a second time on 99 in Test cricket, had shared 197 runs for the second wicket, Australia collapsed from 238 for 1 to 273 for 5 at stumps on the second day.

Luck was on the second-wicket pair's side during the 257-minute alliance as New Zealand squandered three chances - two of them offered by Elliott in the space of seven deliveries.

Australia, resuming on 39 for 1 after five hours were lost on the first day, added 78 runs in the morning and 77 in the post-lunch session. Elliott, the 26-year old left-hander, was uncharacteristically restrained for most of the innings and spent 70 minutes in the eighties before entering the nervous nineties. "It wasn't an atttractive hundred," he said. "It was a slow pitch and I had to wait for the ball."

New Zealand enjoyed success in the sixth over of the morning when the left-arm swing bowler Shayne O'Connor bowled Mark Taylor, the captain, for 18. New Zealand's joy was short-lived, however. For the next four hours and 17 minutes Elliott and Blewett ground down an attack that was in total disarray until the left-handed opener was dismissed.

The part-time medium paceman Craig McMillan, with the second new ball, forced Elliott to push at a delivery and Bryan Young at first slip completed the catch on the second attempt.

Blewett was dominant. He drove exquisitely and pulled perilously for 15 boundaries before playing on to the medium paceman Simon Doull.

Doull then removed Steve Waugh as the right-hander chased a wide delivery and McMillan at point leaped overhead and took a good catch. Ricky Ponting batted for 34 minutes for his four runs but failed to take his bat out of the way of a Chris Cairns outswinger and edged to Adam Parore.

Australia had lost Elliott, Blewett and Steve Waugh in the space of 21 balls for eight runs.

Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

(Overnight 39 for 0)

M T Elliott c Young b McMillan 114

*M A Taylor b O'Connor 18

G S Blewett b Doull 99

M E Waugh not out 21

S R Waugh c McMillan b Doull 7

R T Ponting c Parore b Cairns 4

I A Healy not out 3

Extras (5lb 1nb 1w) 7

Total (for 5): 273

Fall: 1-41 2-238 3-238 4-246 5-266.

To bat: P R Reiffel, S R Warne, M S Kasprowicz, S H Cook.

Bowling (to date): Doull 24-9-58-2; O'Connor 28-6-71-1 (1w); Cairns 29- 12-64-1 (1nb); Astle 12-5-32-0; McMillan 13-4-34-1; Vettori 2-0-9-0.

NEW ZEALAND: B A Young, M J Horne, A C Parore, *S P Fleming, R G Twose, C D McMillan, N J Astle, C L Cairns, D L Vettori, S B Doull, S B O'Connor.

Umpires: S Davis (Aus) and R Tiffin (Zim).