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Australia takes command of first test v South Africa

Written by: Staff
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CAPE TOWN, Mar 17 (Reuters) Ricky Ponting rode his luck for most of the morning session to steer Australia towards a first innings lead on the second day of the first test against South Africa in Cape Town today.

Ponting survived three close calls before being dismissed for 74 on the stroke of lunch, which Australia reached on 175 for two in reply to South Africa's first innings of 205.

Australian captain Ponting hit eight fours and a six in his innings before he drove a Jacques Kallis delivery into the hands of Andrew Hall at short extra cover.

The dismissal ended a stand of 154 between Ponting and Matthew Hayden, who was 78 not out at the interval taken immediately after the skipper lost his wicket.

Ponting was 55 not out when he edged a delivery from medium pacer Hall past wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who was slow to react to the chance.

Fast bowler Kallis then had a big lbw shout turned down when Ponting was on 60 and after he had added another run, Andre Nel dropped a hoisted shot off Hall at fine leg.

Australia resumed on 63 for one and were soon accumulating runs comfortably.

Morning sunshine sapped much of the first day's dampness out of the pitch, and while fast bowlers Nel and Makhaya Ntini toiled hard, all the luck was with the Australians.

Nel found movement off the seam consistently and deserved better figures than the 0-21 he returned from eight overs.

However, Ponting and Hayden scored more freely as lunch approached to end a morning session that realised 112 runs.

REUTERS DH PM1708

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