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Slater puts Aussies in driving seat

Published: Friday, November 19, 1999, 5:30 [IST]
 
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Hobart: Opener Michael Slater hit an unbeaten half century to put Australia in a commanding position at lunch on the second day of the second cricket test against Pakistan on Friday. Slater, who was named man of the match after scoring 169 and 32 not out in Australia's first test victory, reached 66 by the end of the first session with Australia at 134 for one in their first innings reply to Pakistan's 222 all out.

Justin Langer was unbeaten on 27 at the break, after coming to the crease when Greg Blewett was dismissed for 35 at Hobart's Bellerive Oval. Blewett and Slater put on 76 for the opening wicket after resuming play at 29 without loss at the start of the day. Blewett, whose 125-minute innings included four fours, fell when he edged a good length delivery from seamer Azhar Mahmood to wicket-keeper Moin Khan, who held the catch diving to his right.

Slater and Langer then added 58 for the second wicket to leave Australia just 88 runs behind Pakistan with nine wickets in hand. Slater was unusually subdued as he set about carefully building Australia's first innings on a pitch which offered the Pakistan bowlers little encouragement. Resuming on 16, he was given a lease of life on 36 when he was dropped by Saeed Anwar at deep backward square leg after Anwar had run almost 30 metres to get to the ball from deep fine leg, only to spill the chance.

He also survived a scare on 49 when he pulled a ball from off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq straight at Mohammad Wasim at short leg. Mohammad missed the difficult reflex snatch. Slater brought up his 50, his seventh against Pakistan and his 28th in tests, in Saqlain's next over, flicking a ball down the leg side for a single after 177 minutes and 131 balls.

It wasn't until the final over before lunch that he started to hit out, belting 12 of Waqar Younis' last over of the session to race from 54 to 66 in six balls. Langer, who had been badly out of form before this match with just 96 runs from his last six innings, also showed some encouraging signs as he steadily moved his way to 27, hitting three boundaries.

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