Fleming's haul halted by rain

Australia 558-6 dec New Zealand 197-4
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The Independent Online

Rain returned to the Bellerive Oval here yesterday to improve New Zealand's chances of saving the Second Test against Australia.

The tourists, chasing Australia's first-innings score of 558 for 8 declared, were 197 for 4 on the fourth day when the umpires finally abandoned play. An impending storm had forced the teams off midway through the afternoon and although play continued after a 20-minute break, it was for only 2.5 overs before the rain returned.

The covers came off again for a brief period but, with bad weather still threatening, they were soon replaced at which point the umpires decided to call a halt to proceedings. In the 51 overs that were possible, Stephen Fleming led from the front with an undefeated 71 while Craig McMillan 51 not out.

New Zealand began the day on 71 for 2 needing 288 more to avoid the follow on, a task not helped by the fall of two more wickets in the morning session. Only five runs had been added when Mark Richardson, on 30, seemed to edge Jason Gillespie's ball into his pads, but umpire John Smeaton, deputising for the injured Steve Davis, gave him out lbw.

There was no doubt about the dismissal of Nathan Astle, scooped up off the grass by Shane Warne at slip off the second ball bowled by Mark Waugh – preferred at that stage by his brother Steve to Glenn McGrath. The fast bowler has taken one wicket in the series and he had to wait an hour and 50 minutes before Steve handed him the ball.

Fleming was stuck on 49 for almost half an hour, but finally claimed a deserved half-century before moving slowly towards what would be a third Test century. McMillan, usually the aggressor, was happy to play second fiddle and he had faced 129 balls for his score.