Agence France Presse

Auckland, March 27:

Australian captain Ricky Ponting blasted a century at a rapid one-day pace to put his side within 73 runs of New Zealand’s first innings total with six wickets in hand at the close of day two of the third cricket Test here on Sunday. However, Australia’s frantic scoring ended when Ponting went after slaying 105 off 110 balls, and the run rate slowed from more than five an over to 3.4. At stumps Australia were 219 for four after dismissing New Zealand for 292 just on lunch. In a whirlwind session between lunch and tea, Australia overcame a shaky start to put on 143 for two, with Ponting blazing 76. Ponting opened with a six when he came with Australia 8-1, and added three more along with 13 fours.

Australia reached 82-1 after 15 overs and they passed 100 in the 20th over as Ponting unleashed his full array of shots. With Matthew Hayden, Ponting put on 76 for the second wicket and then 103 with Damien Martyn for the third wicket. New Zealand must have felt confident when Justin Langer chopped a ball on to his stumps at the end of James Franklin’s first over, but then watched helpless as their limited pace attack was carted to all points of the ground. Franklin picked up Hayden’s wicket — when umpire Rudi Koertzen accepted a lbw appeal for a delivery that appeared to be heading down the leg side — but he was out of the attack with 2-49. Earlier, Australia wrapped up New Zealand’s first innings, capturing the last five wickets for 64 runs with only Daniel Vettori offering any resistance, reaching 41 not out. Glenn McGrath was again the standout performer, taking 3-49. Shane Warne ended with 3-63, while Michael Kasprowicz and Gillespie took two wickets apiece.