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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Australia Grinds Out a Lead

SYDNEY -- Australian opener Michael Slater stroked a careful 92, putting the hosts in command, but there was a mini-collapse with the new ball to keep South Africa in contention in the second cricket test on Monday.


Australian skipper Allan Border was caught for 49 after a partnership of 104 with Slater. He promptly had four stitches for a cut near the left eye suffered when he had tried to sweep off-spinner Pat Symcox in the final session.


Australia was 200 for five in its first innings, a lead of 31, at the close. The total was 179 for four when Border fell and then Slater went the next over, having taken six hours and 20 minutes to amass his 92. Slater's departure left the score at 179 for five.


"It was a hard grind all day. The bowlers really forced concentration," said Slater of the day's play, which averaged only two runs an over..


"I learned a hell of a lot today," added Slater, playing his 11th test.


He was bowled by paceman Allan Donald, who ended the day with two wickets for 61 runs off 23 overs.


This still put Australia 31 runs ahead, with five wickets in hand after South Africa, decimated by spinner Shane Warne, scored 169 in its first innings on Sunday.


At Monday's close, Damien Martyn was on 15 and Ian Healy on six.


Slater was so tied down by the South African bowlers, particularly Symcox and paceman Craig Matthews, that he took one hour to score five runs after tea.


Border was caught by keeper David Richardson off paceman Fanie de Villiers, who was on the second over with the new ball, taken after 86 overs.


It was far from the day the Australians had been hoping for. They were after a big lead by the close, leaving Warne, who took seven wickets for 56 on Sunday, to mop up the tourists.


But on the hard, dry Sydney Cricket Ground wicket, Slater and Border took seven minutes short of four hours to bring up their 100 partnership.


However, they had moved the score from a delicate 75 for three past the South African total, opening the way for a much faster scoring rate on the third day.


"If we can get 200 ahead, we will be in a really good position," said Slater, warning that the wicket was beginning to deteriorate.


An out-of-touch David Boon (19) was first to fall on Monday, playing a ball from paceman Fanie de Villiers on to his stumps, making the total 58 for two.


Then Mark Waugh (7) was trapped leg before by the off-spin of Symcox, who fortunately for Australia failed to match the turn of Warne.


Symcox bowled 44 overs for his one wicket at a cost of 56 runs, but denied he was tired. "Surprisingly I'm not. We are pretty fit I think. We bowl a lot. Every day I bowl 20 to 25 overs," he said.


He said of Slater and Border: "In my little cricket world, they played very well. I think Border held Slater a lot together."


The rain-affected first test in Melbourne was drawn.