Richardson leads bold recovery

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South Africa 302 v Australia

South Africa's late-order batsmen clawed their side out of serious trouble to reach 302 all out on a fascinating first day of the first Test against Australia at The Wanderers yesterday.

The wicketkeeper Dave Richardson made an unbeaten 72 as he masterminded the addition of 107 runs for the last two wickets, building on a defiant innings of 76 from his captain, Hansie Cronje, after the home side had slumped to 115 for 5.

The chief Australian destroyer had been Glenn McGrath, who lived up to his statistical ranking as the No 1 bowler in the world with a devastating new-ball burst of three wickets for 10 runs in the first session.

McGrath exploited overcast morning conditions to dismiss Andrew Hudson (0), Gary Kirsten (9) and Jacques Kallis (6) and then came back after lunch to get rid of Daryll Cullinan for 27. McGrath finished with 4 for 77 from 26 high-class overs.

Cullinan did his best to rebuild the innings in a fourth-wicket stand of 53 with Cronje as South Africa rallied from 25 for 3 but, despite scoring 124 runs in the afternoon session, the home side paid the price for some loose shots.

On his return to the Test team Jonty Rhodes made 22 before becoming Jason Gillespie's first victim and the all-rounder Shaun Pollock smashed eight fours in 35 from 42 balls before holing out against the left-arm wrist spin of Michael Bevan.

Bevan snared Lance Klusener for nine shortly after tea and the crucial wicket of Cronje fell to Shane Warne, with the help of a brilliant catch at short extra cover by Mark Waugh.

Cronje middled a flat-batted smash, but picked out the unerring hands of Waugh who clung on to the ball as he fell backwards, ending Cronje's 144-ball stay which included 10 fours and a six.

At 195 for 8, the initiative was clearly with the Australians, but Richardson inspired a brilliant rally as he raced to 72 from just 87 balls with 10 fours and a six. He added 58 with Allan Donald (21) and 49 with Paul Adams (15) before the latter was trapped leg before by Warne off the fourth ball of the day's final over. Warne finished a fluctuating day with figures of 2 for 68 from 27.4 overs.

First day; South Africa won toss

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings

A C Hudson c Healy b McGrath 0

G Kirsten c Healy b McGrath 9

J H Kallis c M Waugh b McGrath 6

D J Cullinan c Healy b McGrath 27

*W J Cronje c M Waugh b Warne 76

J N Rhodes c Healy b Gillespie 22

S M Pollock c S Waugh b Bevan 35

L Klusener c Taylor b Bevan 9

D J Richardson not out 72

A A Donald c Healy b Gillespie 21

P R Adams lbw Warne 15

Extras (b1 lb3 w3 nb3) 10

Total (91.4 overs) 302

Fall: 1-0 2-15 3-25 4-78 5-115 6-165 7-183 8-195 9-253.

Bowling: McGrath 26-8-77-4 (nb1); Gillespie 17-6-66-2 (w2); Warne 27.4- 9-68-2 (nb2); Bevan 17-1-64-2 (w1); Blewett 4-0-23-0

AUSTRALIA: *M A Taylor, M L Hayden, M T G Elliott, M E Waugh, G S Blewett, S R Waugh, M G Bevan, I A Healy, S K Warne, J N Gillespie, G D McGrath.

Umpires: C J Mitchley (SA) and S Venkataraghavan (Ind).