Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

{Punter Century Defies Critics} {Skipper Shows What Hayden Needs to Do }

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

{Punter Century Defies Critics} {Skipper Shows What Hayden Needs to Do }

Article excerpt

Byline: GREG BUCKLE

BACKED into a corner and trailing 1-0 in the series against South Africa, Australian captain Ricky Ponting showed his fighting spirit with a defiant 101 in the second Test yesterday.

But it wasn't enough to give his side a clear advantage, with Australia reaching 6-280 at stumps on day one at the MCG.

Ponting said Australia was in a "reasonable" position, while South Africa paceman Makhaya Ntini proclaimed it a good day for the Proteas.

Michael Clarke resumes today on 36, with Brett Lee on zero.

Graeme Smith's catch at first slip to remove Haddin for 40 off the bowling of Ntini (2-71) in the penultimate over of the day was a key blow for the Proteas.

"It's pretty hard to gauge who has come out on top today because the outfield was reasonably slow," Ponting said.

"I think 280 for us is probably worth a bit over 300 today. When- ever you can score 300 in a day and still have one of your batsmen in and a couple of pretty handy tailenders to come ...

"The first hour tomorrow morning will tell us how good today was. We need to back up today with a good hour in the morning and hopefully get up around 350-400.

"That would be a good first- innings total."

Opener Matthew Hayden could be making his last Test appearance after failing again with eight, caught at backward point off Ntini.

Ponting and Simon Katich (54) steadied the innings with a 107-run stand for the second wicket.

The pair also joined the 1000-run club for 2008.

Hayden would have dearly loved a seventh MCG hundred for himself.

The Queenslander has scored only 290 runs at 22.30 in eight Tests against India, New Zealand and South Africa since recovering from an Achilles injury.

Dale Steyn struck in his 11th and 14th overs to remove Katich and Mike Hussey for a duck.

Hussey has continued his modest start to the South African series, with eight runs in three innings.

Ponting, who was dropped at third slip on 24 off Steyn's bowling, reached his century off 119 balls with 11 fours and one six, celebrating with both arms aloft and acknowledging the cheers of the crowd of 63,263, including wife Rianna and baby daughter Emmy. …

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