Cricket: Slater and his skipper dig in on stony ground: Australia take first-innings lead

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The Independent Online
South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169

Australia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .200-5

AUSTRALIA dug in deep to finish the second day of the second Test against South Africa in Sydney yesterday with a 31-run lead and five first-innings wickets in hand. The Australians, well served by Shane Warne's seven-wicket haul on Sunday, ground out 180 runs off 90 overs.

Australia were 200 for 5 after a painstaking 104-run partnership between the opener, Michael Slater, and the captain, Allan Border, in 242 minutes off 357 balls. But it ended in frustration for Slater when he was bowled eight runs short of his third Test century about 40 minutes before stumps. He hit five fours in a 380-minute vigil of restraint on a steadily deteriorating pitch.

Border, in his 152nd Test, was also denied his 63rd Test half-century, caught behind off Fanie de Villiers for 49 in 242 belligerent minutes. He left with four stitches in a gashed left eyebrow after he tried to sweep the off spinner Pat Symcox and the ball ricocheted into his face. Border's Test career of 10,927 runs includes 1,170 on the SCG, which breaks the the former Australian captain Greg Chappell's tally of 1,150 in Sydney.

Australia will resume today with Damien Martyn on 15 and the wicketkeeper Ian Healy on six.

Yesterday was a day of education for Slater, 24 next month, and already boasting a 50-plus average in 11 Tests for Australia. 'It was the hardest day of Test cricket I've played,' Slater said. 'I learned a lot out of the day, batting with A B'

The visiting captain, Kepler Wessels, who went into the Test with a knee injury, was forced off late in the day when he split the webbing of his left hand as he tried to catch Healy at second slip off De Villiers. The injury needed three stitches.

(Second day; South Africa won toss)

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings 169 (G Kirsten 67; S K Warne 7-56).

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

(Overnight: 20-1)

M J Slater b Donald. . . . . . . . . . . 92

D C Boon b De Villiers . . . . . . . . . .19

M E Waugh lbw b Symcox. . . . . . . . . . 7

* A R Border c Richardson b De Villiers. .49

D R Martyn not out. . . . . . . . . . . . 25

] I A Healy not out. . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Extras (b1 lb1 nb3). . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Total (for 5). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

Fall (cont): 2-58 3-75 4-179 5-179.

To bat: S K Warne, T B A May, C J McDermott, G D McGrath.

Bowling: Donald 23-4-61-2 (nb1); De Villiers 21-9- 48-2; Matthews 24-10-33-0 (nb1); Symcox 44-10- 56-1 (nb1).

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