x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

England dig in and save first Test

Friedel de Wet rips through the England order during the final session, but Graham Onions and Paul Collingwood survive.

England's final partnership defied South Africa for 19 balls as the tourists held on for a dramatic draw in the first Test at Centurion. In scenes reminiscent of England's backs-to-the-wall Cardiff survival at the start of last summer's Ashes, this time it was Durham team-mates Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions who would not be moved as England finished on 228 for nine. It fell to Onions to face the last over from Makhaya Ntini - the South Africa paceman taking part in his 100th Test - and with 10 men in catching positions around the bat, the England number 11 proved equal to the task. South Africa-born batsmen Kevin Pietersen (81) and Jonathan Trott (69) had earlier done most of the work to stave off a victory push from their native country in a fourth-wicket stand of 145. But after Pietersen was needlessly run out and Trott was the first of five wickets to fall for 13 runs in 11 overs to the second new ball, the tourists were left clinging on desperately. Survival was always the key and, with nightwatchman James Anderson gone early, Alastair Cook was also out of the equation after a stand of 11 runs in more than 10 overs with Trott. From a dicey 27 for three, Trott and Kevin Pietersen's unbroken stand took the score to 77 without further loss at lunch. Then the pair took England to 169 for 3 at tea. But it was debutant Friedel de Wet, with new ball in hand that took the game to the tourists. After Pietersen's run out, he took the prized wicket of Trott, caught by AB de Villiers that sparked a collapse. Ian Bell (2) and Matthew Prior (0) soon followed without troubling the scorers as England crashed from 205-4 to 207-7. Paul Harris supported the paceman and captured the wicket of Stuart Broad for a duck. Graeme Swann stuck around for less than three overs with the resolute and dogged Paul Collingwood but Morne Morkel had him trapped lbw. So it was down to the tail-ender Onions, averaging just 12 in first class cricket to see out the remaining 19 balls with Collingwood (26 not out). The England man rose to the challenge of lasting Ntini's final over and keeps the Test series at 0-0.

* PA Sport