Buchanan looks for light through the gloom

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The Independent Online

The loss of 111 overs to rain and bad light in the last two days did little to dampen the Australians' desire to push for victory over New Zealand in the Second Test at the Bellerive Oval.

New Zealand ended the third day on 71 for 2 in their first innings in reply to Australia's 558 for 8 declared. Just 35 overs were possible during the day, but Australia's coach, John Buchanan, remained poisitive. "There are plenty of opportunities for the game to be won," he said.

The most obvious would be to enforce the follow-on, with New Zealand still 288 short of avoiding it. Buchanan said the pitch was providing some assistance for the seamers and beginning to turn for Shane Warne. "But it's almost a rerun of the Brisbane Test, 210 overs still left, plenty in the game," Buchanan said.

In that First Test, New Zealand declared after just avoiding the follow-on, Australia declared after just 15 overs to set New Zealand a challenging last-day target of 284 which they came within 10 runs of reaching before the game finished in a draw.

The third day here was one of prolonged frustration. Rain forced the players off the field 43 minutes after lunch, and play was finally abandoned at 5.04pm. New Zealand's captain, Stephen Fleming was on 16 and opening batsman March Richardson 25 as the Kiwis struggled to make significant progress.

Mathew Sinclair, who had scored 23 from 39 balls before lunch, was bowled by Gillespie from the first ball of the second session after leaving a gaping hole between bat and pad.

Warne, who was introduced to the attack as early as the 14th over, needed only two balls to claim his 411th Test victim, removing opener Matthew Bell for four to a catch behind by Adam Gilchrist as he attempted to sweep. Bell, who scored six and five in Brisbane, and had dropped century-maker Justin Langer in the second over of the Test, had taken 33 balls to get off the mark.

Warne almost had two wickets in his opening over when Sinclair edged the ball to leg slip and Australian captain Steve Waugh failed to hold a low chance as he dived to his left.