Warne breaks defiant Kiwis

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Cricket: Stephen Fleming and Blair Pocock propped up New Zealand with a 98-run stand as they reached 134 for 3 in reply to Australia's 373 on the second day of the First Test yesterday.

Shane Warne broke their union just before the close as the pair appeared set to bat out the final session without the loss of a wicket. Warne had Pocock caught by Mark Taylor at first slip for 57. At stumps Fleming had 49 and the nightwatchman Daniel Vettori was yet to score.

Pocock and Fleming, the captain, came to the rescue after New Zealand were reduced to 36 for 2. The local hero Michael Kasprowicz got a delivery to slant across the opener Bryan Young to have him caught by Taylor for one with the total two, and Nathan Astle was horribly run out for 12.

New Zealand still need 39 runs to avoid the follow-on on a Gabba wicket that is becoming easier for the batsmen.

The Australian bowlers toiled throughout the third-wicket stand that lasted 44 overs. Mark Waugh dropped Fleming on 21 at second slip in Glenn McGrath's second over after tea. Pocock's 182-ball knock with five boundaries lasted 238 minutes and it was his first half- century against Australia. New Zealand went into tea at 60 for 2 after having dismissed Australia on the last ball before the lunch break.

After Mark Taylor's 112 runs on the first day had rescued the innings from a precariously placed 53 for 4, Ian Healy and Paul Reiffel continued to frustrate the visitors with a stubborn 69-run stand. Australia resumed the day on 269 for 6 and soon lost Healy, who added just six runs before he played on to the hard-working Simon Doull, who also claimed the No 11 Glenn McGrath's wicket to finish with 4 for 70.

Second day; New Zealand won toss

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

(Overnight 269-6; *M A Taylor 112)

I A Healy b Doull 68

P R Reiffel c Parore b Allott 77

S K Warne c Fleming b Vettori 21

M S Kasprowicz not out 13

G D McGrath c Fleming b Doull 6

Extras (4b, 9lb, 6nb, 1w) 20

Total (121 overs) 373

Fall: 7-294, 8-349,9-359.

Bowling: Doull 30-6-70-4 (1w); Allott 31-3-117-1; Cairns 24-5-90-4 (4nb); Vettori 21-5-46-1; Astle 11-2-20-0; Harris 4-1-17-0 (2nb).

NEW ZEALAND - First Innings

B A Young c Taylor b Kasprowicz 1

B A Pocock c Taylor b Warne 57

N J Astle run out 12

*S P Fleming not out 49

D K Vettori not out 0

Extras (3b, 12nb) 15

Total (for 3, 60 overs) 134

Fall: 1-2, 2-36, 3-134.

To bat: C D McMillan, C L Cairns, C Z Harris, A C Parore, S B Doull, G I Allott.

Bowling: McGrath 14-4-38-0 (7nb), Kasprowicz 16-4-31-1 (4nb), Warne 16-7-28-1, Reiffel 9-2-24-0 (1nb), Waugh 5-2-10-0.