Ponting Scores Ton

Dropped catches missed run outs and a hard fought hundred by Australian captain Ricky Ponting has put the visitors in a strong position at the end of day one in the second Test in Durban. At stumps the Aussies were 228/5.

‘Old fashioned Test cricket’ the commentators called it; jejune may have been a more apt description. As the Australians eschewed any unnecessary risks following a shaky start that saw them 0/1 after Matthew Hayden was dismissed off just the second ball he faced.

In an uncharacteristic moment Hayden played a huge drive off a Makhaya Ntini delivery that was well wide of the off-stump, and only managed a thick edge, which was well caught at third slip by AB de Villiers.

This brought the Australian captain to the crease, Ponting was under pressure to justify his decision to bat first on a ‘green top’. With Shaun Pollock bowling tightly at one end (0-7 off his first 7 overs) the visitors scored freely from the other end, amassing 50 runs in the first hour.

After the initial onslaught the Proteas tightened up noticeably as the Australians refused to take risks, with Justin Langer in particular batting in an exiguous manner. Not that the home side did not have their chances; with Ponting being missed twice by an unwell Mark Boucher at five, and having an edge go between first and second slip at waist height without a hand touching the ball! Ponting was on 36 at the time.

After lunch Langer batted even slower if that was possible, before Jacques Kallis managed to have him caught at the wicket for 35 from 125 balls faced (97/2).

Ponting and new man Damien Martyn than featured in a 101 run partnership for the third wicket, before finally Ponting was dismissed by Nick Boje, but not before he posted his 29th Test hundred. Not his most impressive ton (225 balls) but extremely important in the context of the series.

Martyn went twenty runs later to the bowling of Makhaya Ntini for a very attractive 57 (134 balls) this left the Aussies 218/4. Welcome night watchman Brett Lee to face a fired up Ntini who was bowling with pace and raw aggression.

Lee was caught at the wicket for a duck off Ntini, which forced Andrew Symonds to come to the crease. He also received a less than friendly welcome from Ntini and had his slip split from a fierce bouncer, before play finished for the day with Symonds not out 4 and Mike Hussey not out 10.

So in the end a good fight back from the Proteas led by Makhaya Ntini, has left this Test in an interesting position. South Africa will need quick wickets on the second day as both the batsman now at the crease are very quick scorers and are capable of taking this game away from the hosts in just a couple of hours batting.

Australia 228/5
Ricky Ponting 103, Damien Martyn 57
Makhaya Ntini 3-50, Jacques Kallis 1-33

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