Australia leads as Slater and Waugh notch up centuries

Michael Slater and Steve Waugh shared a 199-run partnership on Saturday as Australia recovered from a top order collapse to reach 318 for five at stumps on day two of the second test against New Zealand in Wellington, New Zealand.

Waugh joined Slater at the crease early in the morning session with Australia reeling at 51 for four in reply to New Zealand's first innings of 298.

The pair resurrected the innings before Slater was caught behind for 143.

Waugh notched his 22nd test century and was unbeaten on 109 when bad light stopped play 45 minutes before stumps at the Basin Reserve with Australian leading by 20 runs.

Damien Martyn was not out 41 after sharing an unbeaten 68-run stand with his skipper.

Slater, who survived while the top order capitulated, reached his 14th test century off 151 balls including 15 boundaries and a six. He was eventually out attempting a pull shot off Craig McMillan and edging a catch down the legside.

"It's good when you get a partnership going when you're team is in the mire - it's very satisfactory for both of us," said Slater of his partnership with Waugh.

The opener, who has been dismissed nine times after reaching the 90s, said he was most nervous bat 29 for two Saturday after losing Greg Blewett without scoring and Shane Warne (7) to the last ball of the opening day on Friday.

Chris Cairns snared two wickets early in the first session, removing Justin Langer (12) and Mark Waugh (3). Rain halted play for an hour around the lunch break with Australia on a tenuous 91 for four.

By the tea break, Australia was 4-224 with Slater on 127 and Waugh on 73 leading the fightback on a bitterly cold day in Wellington.

Cairns returned figures of 2-83 off 20 overs and McMillan had 1-20 from 10 overs.

The Black Caps' bowling attack was blunted by the loss of spinner Daniel Vettori, who injured his back in the morning session and spent most of the day in the pavilion.

New Zealand coach David Trist said Vettori had been carrying a minor back injury but exacerbated it Saturday and could be sidelined on Sunday.

Vettori took 12 wickets in the first test in Auckland, which Australia won by 62 runs.

Scores at stumps on Saturday in the second cricket test between Australia and New Zealand at Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand, 1st Innings 298

Australia, 1st Innings

Michael Slater c Parore b McMillan 143 Greg Blewett c Astle b Doull 0 Shane Warne lbw b Vettori 7 Justin Langer c Parore b Cairns 12 Mark Waugh c Sinclair b Cairns 3 Steve Waugh not out 109 Damien Martyn not out 41

Extras: (1lb,2nb) 3

Total: (for five wickets) 318

Overs: 87.4

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-29, 3-47, 4-51, 5-250.

Bowling: Chris Cairns 20-1-83-2 (1nb), Simon Doull 17-3-69-1, Daniel Vettori 15-1-50-1 (1nb), Shayne O'Connor 15.4-0-58-0, Nathan Astle 10-2-37-0, Craig McMillan 10-2-20-1.

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