Aussies wrap it up

Australia wrapped up the 2nd Test against South Africa with little difficulty on the fifth day at Melbourne. Despite encountering some stout resistance from veteran Shaun Pollock, the Aussies weren’t troubled in wrapping up the match to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

The day began with South Africa six wickets down for 99 runs requiring a further 267 for victory, and more importantly, Australia requiring 4 wickets to go one-up in the series. With Pollock and Prince at the crease, all hope was not lost for the South Africans and they began cautiously, but confidently. With Ponting opting to an all leg-spin attack to open the day, the two batsmen played each ball on its merits while not passing up any opportunity for easy runs, with Pollock particularly severe on anything dropped short by MacGill and Warne. Neither bowler was giving away runs easily though, with Warne appealing several times unsuccessfully for leg-before to Prince. However, just when the Australians were getting frustrated, he fell due to some exuberant appealing and a dodgy decision from the relatively inexperienced Asad Rauf, who had an otherwise decent Test match. Prince looked to leave a ball turning in, delivered from around the wicket by Warne, and with some sharp turn the ball hit him on the fore-arm to go to Hayden who took another very good catch, leaving Prince looking crestfallen at a very poor decision.

The next man in was Nicky Boje who immediately looked comfortable at the crease. He and Pollock put on 36 but more importantly they ate up another 94 balls in doing so. With both leg-spinners proving ineffectual, Boje having hit Warne for a big six over long-off, Ponting turned to pace first in the form of Brett Lee and then to ever-reliable Glenn McGrath. McGrath immediately made an impact, getting one ball to jump up alarmingly off of a good length to Pollock. The wicket of Boje came with a ball that kept low, with Boje inside edging the ball onto the stumps to fall for 13.

With only Nel and Ntini for company, Pollock began to open up, bringing up his 50 and continuing to play aggressively while Nel did his best to hold up the other end. However, McGrath tempted Nel to flash at a wide delivery in the last over before lunch to remove him for 2, and the South Africans were 9 wickets down. Ntini, who was injured earlier in the match, came out to bat with AB de Villiers as a runner and managed to see out the last four balls before lunch. It took only five balls for the Australians to wrap it up after lunch, with Ntini not picking a wrong’un from MacGill to be clean bowled to leave South Africa all out for 181 and spell victory for Australia by 184 runs.

Man of the Match honours deservedly went to Michael Hussey for his stunning 2nd day century in partnership with McGrath and while the Australians will be toasting another excellent victory, the South Africans will be ruing the dropped catches of Ponting, Hussey and Hayden who all went on to make centuries. Australia only needs a draw in Sydney to take the series, while South Africa now must win. However, they will be heartened that were it not for some dropped chances, they could have easily been the victors. Australia will also be pleased with a more settled middle-order, with Symonds finally showing what he is capable of at Test level and Hussey continuing his dream beginning to an international career. With all to play for at Sydney, all cricket fans are undoubtedly in for another cracker in what has been an excellent and competitive series.

Australia – 355
Hussey 122, Ponting 117
Nel 4/84, Ntini 3/70, Pollock 3/67

South Africa – 311
Gibbs 94, de Villiers 61
Symonds 3/50, Lee 3/92

Australia – 321/7d
Hayden 137, Symonds 72
Kallis 3/58

South Africa – 181
Pollock 67*
Warne 4/74, McGrath 3/44

Australia wins by 184 runs.
Man of the Match: Michael Hussey
Australia leads the 3-Test series 1-0

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