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Australia sticks with winning form

By Greg Buckle 24/03/2006 06:13:55 AM Comments (0)

A lush covering of grass on the Durban pitch has convinced Australia's selectors to choose an unchanged team with three frontline pacemen for Friday's second Test against South Africa.

Australia decided against recalling leg-spinner Stuart MacGill to partner Shane Warne, but skipper Ricky Ponting will have the option of throwing the ball to all-rounder Andrew Symonds for his off-spinners if the wicket starts to turn on days four and five.

After last week's controversial Cape Town strip was heavily watered and offered massive assistance to the pace bowlers, the Proteas have again asked for a seam-friendly pitch, despite their poor batting with scores of 205 and 197 in the first Test which Australia won by seven wickets.

NSW paceman Stuart Clark, who claimed the best Australian match figures on debut for 34 years with his 9-89 in Cape Town, has been retained with new-ball duo Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz.

"You know here you are going to get a pretty good cricket wicket," Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said.

"It's good for seam and swing bowlers, and it will spin given it's the end of the summer.

"Coming into this game, we're happy with where we're at.

"We have got a great record against South Africa (won 42, lost 15) in Test cricket.

"The South Africans are talking about the Test series is on the line, and we know exactly the same.

"If we perform well here then the result looks after itself and the Test series is won."

South Africa will not name a team until the morning but is expected to recall leading paceman Shaun Pollock from a back injury, with either all-rounder Andrew Hall or spinner Nicky Boje to be dropped.

Proteas captain Graeme Smith said it would be a tough call.

"We expect a good wicket. It's always got bounce and carry so there's always a bit of both for batting and bowling in Durban," Smith said.

"Certainly the new ball is probably the toughest time to bat. "If you can get through that, it offers you a good chance to get some good runs and with the bounce, there's always a chance for the bowlers.

"I guess it's a tough choice. "If we have decent weather it does get pretty good. So maybe that change of pace (to spin) is needed."

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke (12th man). The match starts at 1000 local time (1900 AEDT).

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