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Australia On Top
17 Mar 2006
By: Arunava Das


In conditions helpful to the seamers, the Australian innings eventually ended on 308 after resuming in the morning at 63-1. Brett Lee then snared opener AB de Villiers and the in-form Gibbs in one over to complete a satsifying day for the tourists.

The morning session was completely dominated by Australia. Matthew Hayden and Rocky Ponting resumed proceedings with caution on another overcast day. However, the South African bowlers wasted the conditions and didn't take their chances to be without success in the first session. Although not looking as comfortable at the crease as they normally do, both Hayden and Ponting looked good for tons to put the game right out of South Africas reach. However, a middle order collapse prevented the damage from being too great from the South African point of view.

Ponting was first to go, driving on the up to be caught at cover. Hayden then top-edged a pull when in sight of a 26th Test century to leave the Aussies in a spot of bother at 192-3. The procession of wickets didn't end there, Hussey falling for only six and with Martyn and Gilchrist departing early, the South Africans had a hope of wrapping things up quickly. They managed to do that, but not before a brutal half century from Andrew Symonds pushed the lead past 100.

Symonds scored 55 from only 47 deliveries and hit four sixes in his quickfire knock. He was particularly harsh on spinner Nicky Boje, taking him for 22 runs in one over including three sixes. However, Boje had the last laugh as Symonds played a woeful shot and was caught in the deep off his bowling.

The Australian lower order didn't push on as they have done so successfully in the recent past. Brett Lee was gone for a duck, and Shane Warne didn't hang around. The Australians were eventually dismissed for 308 with a lead of 103. The South African bowlers had fought back well after a poor first session. Andre Nel was the pick of the bowlers, and Jacques Kallis bowled impressively while extracting some reverse swing.

The South Africans started positively, moving to 20 with few alarms before some Gilchrist brilliance ended their opening stand. De Villiers inside edged a drive off Lee and Gilchrist dived full length to take the catch. Two balls later, a quick Lee off cutter clean bowled Herschelle Gibbs, defending lazily, for zero. The next to go was the captain, Graeme Smith. Warne struck in his first over to trap Smith in front playing back to a leg-spinner, and the South Africans were looking down the barrel at 37-3. With few overs left in the day, Kallis and Prince had the duty to play out the remaining overs without taking any risks, and both looked positive in their short stay at the crease. Kallis played some magnificent shots off the bowling of Shane Warne who didn't look at his best.

Australia clearly had the better of a day suited to the bowlers more than the batsman. Despite a collapse in the middle order, they managed to take a substantial lead and with the pitch not getting any easier to bat on, they will be looking forward to wrapping up the South African innings quickly. For the South Africans, a great deal now rests on the shoulders of Prince and Kallis. For the Proteas to have any chance in the match, Kallis and Prince will have to bat for a long time.

South Africa 205
Nicky Boje 31, Andrew Hall 24
Stuart Clark 5-55, Brett Lee 3-37

Australia 308
Matthew Hayden 94, Ricky Ponting 74
Jacques Kallis 3-51, Andre Nel 2-45

South Africa 70-3
Kallis 31*, Smith 16
Lee 2-22, Warne 1-23


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