Australia made a shaky start to their first innings as South Africa took a firm grip on the third and final Test in Sydney.

At close of play on day two, Australia trailed by 397 runs after stumbling to 54 for three in response to the visitors' 451 for nine declared.

With 15 overs of the day to bat out, the home crowd saw Matthew Hayden make four before chopping a delivery from Charl Langeveldt on to his stumps.

Justin Langer took two consecutive fours off Langeveldt to take him to 25 before he attempted a pull shot to a ball which kept low and got a bottom edge on to his wicket.

On reaching 11, Ricky Ponting brought up 8,000 Test runs, becoming only the 16th man to do so, and ended the day on 13 not out.

But Andre Nel struck again for the visitors just before the close when night-watchman Brad Hodge (6) flicked one to Jacques Rudolph who took the catch at short leg.

Resuming on 230 for three yesterday morning, South African pair Jacques Kallis and Ashwell Prince both completed centuries before lunch to put the Proteas in a strong position.

Kallis and Prince had put on the highest fourth-wicket partnership for South Africa against Australia, reaching 219 before Kallis - on 111 - skied Andrew Symonds to Glenn McGrath at long leg just before the interval.

Prince, who reached his third Test century with a flick off his legs, was first to go in the afternoon session when a Shane Warne delivery hit a rough patch well outside the batsman's off stump and turned back into his pad.

The ball looked to have been missing the stumps, but the appeal was upheld by umpire Billy Bowden and Prince departed for 119.

Mark Boucher (5) also suffered a bad break when he got a bottom edge which television replays showed hit the ground before Adam Gilchrist ran round from behind the stumps to take the catch.

Rudolph (38) was the next back to the pavilion when he gave Gilchrist a simple catch via an outside edge.

He was followed by Shaun Pollock, who made a solid 46 before mistiming a lofted drive which Hodge pouched at mid on.

Nel (12) was caught by the same fielder when he tied himself in knots and looped the ball straight to point.

Graeme Smith declared five balls later as South Africa look to take their first win of the tour. Australia currently lead the three-match series 1-0 after gaining a comfortable 184-run victory in the second Test in Melbourne. n Nathan Astle returned to form at international level as New Zealand completed victory in the National Bank Series with a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Christchurch.

Astle scored an unbeaten 90 as the hosts took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series to begin the 2006 calendar year in fine fashion.

Lou Vincent (46), Peter Fulton (32) and Scott Styris (28) also made valuable contributions in the one-day international as New Zealand made it home with 12 balls to spare.

Astle survived two claimed dismissals to become the first man to score 3,000 one-day international runs in New Zealand and lead the Black Caps safely home in his native city.

Chris Cairns also took his 200th ODI wicket on home soil after Upal Tharanga scored his second one-day century to give Sri Lanka a total of 255 for seven to defend.

Sri Lanka prospect Tharanga showed his potential with 103 and captain Marvan Atapattu recorded a speedy half-century.

Tharanga's innings came from only 115 deliveries, his demise arriving when he found the safe hands of Peter Fulton on the onside boundary.

And Jacob Oram was the man who caught Tillakaratne Dilshan for 10 to ensure Canterbury veteran Cairns reached his personal milestone.

Kumar Sangakkara made 36 and Atapattu weighed in with 51, but Sri Lanka's total proved to be under par once New Zealand began their reply.

Vincent set them off to a flying start with his runs coming at quicker than run-a-ball rate, and although he fell in the 12th over, the Canterbury duo of Astle and Fulton pushed the score on.

Astle looked in imperious form as he battled the damp conditions - his innings bracketed a rain-enforced delay - to make a point after his omission from the original squad, with the Black Caps reaching 256 for five. n Former India captain Saurav Ganguly was banned from bowling on Tuesday after receiving two warnings for running on the pitch during a domestic four-day match.

Ganguly was playing for Bengal against Tamil Nadu in Kolkata on the first day of their Ranji Trophy champion-ship match.

The 33-year-old left-handed batsman has been the centre of controversy since he was abruptly dropped from the India side for the third test against Sri Lanka but then recalled for the forthcoming tour of Pakistan.