DURBAN, South Africa, Mar 24 (Reuters) Captain Ricky Ponting's flawed half-century earned Australia the advantage on the first day of the second test against South Africa today.
Australia, who won the toss and chose to bat, were 138 for two at tea. Ponting was 73 not out with Damien Martyn on 20.
Australia won the first test by seven wickets.
Ponting took guard just nine balls into the match and without a run on the board when Matthew Hayden drove expansively at a wide delivery from fast bowler Makhaya Ntini and edged a catch to AB de Villiers at third slip.
Ponting was five not out today when he gloved a legside delivery from Ntini. The catch flew towards a diving Mark Boucher but the wicketkeeper failed to hold it.
Langer and Ponting rode out the rest of a first hour in which the ball often deviated off the seam and they began to score more freely as lunch approached.
Ponting was 36 not out when he survived his second chance, an edge off fast bowler Andre Nel that bisected Boucher and Graeme Smith at first slip.
Langer and Ponting were finally separated in the 10th over lunch when Langer, who scored 35, drove limply at a delivery from fast bowler Jacques Kallis and fell to a low, rolling catch by Boucher to end a stand of 97.
Ponting and Martyn have scored comfortably, though not fluently, on a steadily flattening pitch. Their unbroken partnership was worth 41 runs.
The consistent Kallis went to tea with figures of one for 23 from 11 overs.
REUTERS PDS KN1843