Cricket: Australia relying on Boon

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South Africa 251 and 450-9 dec

Australia 248 and 123-2

AUSTRALIA'S batsmen face an uphill struggle on the fifth and final day today if they are to deny South Africa victory in the first Test in Johannesburg.

Set 454 to win, Australia were 123 for 2 at the close yesterday with David Boon 56 not out and Mark Waugh, passing 2,000 Test runs in the process, 16 not out.

Boon hit seven boundaries in his half-century and Australia's hopes of avoiding defeat rest heavily on his shoulders.

If Australia were to succeed in making 331 more runs for victory it would be a world record for a side batting fourth in a Test match.

Only two other sides have made 400 batting fourth to win a Test. Donald Bradman's 1948 Australians upset England at Headingley by scoring 404 for 3 and India made 406 for 4 in Port of Spain in 1975-76 to beat the West Indies.

The pitch is beginning to cause problems at one end and Fanie de Villiers, who bowled both Matthew Hayden and Michael Slater off inside edges in Australia's second innings thinks this could be the key.

'The unevenness of the pitch should help us,' he said. 'There's a few cracks and the ball is keeping low so I think we'll get a few lbws.' The nightwatchman, de Villiers, was quickly removed by Craig McDermott when South Africa resumed on 335 for 5 but the veteran, Peter Kirsten, moved confidently to his second Test fifty against the Australians.

But having reached 53 he attempted to sweep Tim May and the ball bounced off his shoulder for David Boon at short-leg to take the catch.

The Australians had been hoping for a swift end to the innings but there were contributions from the rest of the order. Shane Warne was the pick of the Australian bowlers, taking 4 for 86 from 44.5 overs.

(Fourth of five days)

(South Africa won toss)

SOUTH AFRICA - First innings 251 (J N Rhodes 69).

AUSTRALIA - First innings 248.

SOUTH AFRICA - Second innings

(Overnight: 335 for 5)

P N Kirsten c Boon b May 53

P S de Villiers b McDermott 4

B M McMillan b Warne 24

D J Richardson c Border b Warne 20

C R Matthews not out 31

A A Donald not out 15

Extras (b13 lb4 nb5) 22

Total (for 9 dec) 450

Fall (cont): 6-343 7-366 8-403 9-406.

Bowling: McDermott 35-3-112-1 (nb 4); Hughes 25-5- 86-1; May 39-11-107-2; S Waugh 10-3-28-1 (nb 1); M Waugh 6-2-14-0; S Warne 44.5-14-86-4.

AUSTRALIA - Second innings

M J Slater b de Villiers 41

M L Hayden b de Villiers 5

D C Boon not out 56

M E Waugh not out 16

Extras (lb3 nb2) 5

Total (for 2, 43 overs) 123

Fall: 1-18 2-95.

Bowling (to date): Donald 9-2-32-0 (nb 2); De Villiers 14-4-31-2; McMillan 8-0-33-0; Matthews 10-3-22-0; G Kirsten 2-0-2-0.

Umpires: D Shepherd and B Lambson.

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