x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Last wicket pair makes Proteas weep

Onions and Anderson survive three tense overs to help England hang on for a draw in the third Test and ensure they head to Johannesburg in the driving seat.

CAPE TOWN // Just how do England keep pulling off these rescue acts? Andrew Strauss' men yesterday pulled off their third act of escapology within the last 12 months but, after dramatic draws in the Ashes at Cardiff and in Centurion during last month, this was surely the best of the lot.

Just like at SuperSport Park it went down to the last wicket and, once again, last man Graham Onions resolutely batted out the final over to save the match for England. The enthralling draw keeps the visitors' 1-0 lead intact, ensuring South Africa cannot win the series going into next week's final Test at Johannesburg. And just like at Sophia Gardens and Centurion, England can also be grateful to Paul Collingwood whose grit and termination helped them pull off a quite remarkable rearguard.

Collingwood's 40 runs came from 188 balls in four hours and 36 minutes of defiance. But unlike Centurion, Collingwood was unable to finish the job and neither was Ian Bell despite an equally impressive 78. Instead, it was left to Onions - along with Graeme Swann - to finally see off the South Africa bowlers, just like he had done in the first Test. Along with Collingwood and Bell, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad also dramatically fell in a thrilling finale to leave Onions and Swann with 17 balls to save the game.

Bell played a fine fluent knock in the circumstances. England were on the brink at 160 for five when he arrived at the crease but he put on 112 runs with Collingwood to help save the game. Collingwood, in particular, battled bravely against one of the most hostile bowling spells in Test cricket to set up the draw. Dale Steyn, the world's No 1 Test bowler, tested all of the Durham man's resolve with the new ball after lunch in scenes reminiscent of Allan Donald's 1998 duel with Michael Atherton at Trent Bridge.

Collingwood enjoyed a reprieve along the way, surviving another poor umpiring decision first ball, this time by Tony Hill. But he successfully overturned the decision after Jacques Kallis had claimed a catch off Harris. TV evidence showed the ball had only hit Collingwood's hip. James Anderson played his part, too, surviving more than an hour before falling looping up a catch off his boot to Harris.

Steyn got the crucial breakthrough of Jonathan Trott, sending the off-stump cartwheeling out of the ground. Bell calmly steadied the ship and played a fine cover drive off Steyn to ease his nerves. But Bell and Collingwood had to face an on-song Steyn and Morne Morkel with the new ball immediately after lunch. The South African pair bowled a terrific spell of hostile deliveries, with Collingwood, in particular, having to dig deep to see off Steyn.

Collingwood and Bell survived until tea and immediately afterwards Graeme Smith turned to spin. The move eventually paid dividends. Collingwood edged JP Duminy to Kallis at slip to leave England with 13 overs to survive. Nerves were then starting to jangle when Duminy got Prior (four) in his next over, AB de Villiers taking a fine low catch. Broad fell at short leg for a 22-ball duck, caught by Hashim Amla off the bowling of Harris.

The gripping end continued with Bell finally falling, edging to Smith at first slip off Morkel. The drama continued when South Africa asked for a review on the penultimate ball of the game but a Morkel delivery only hit Onions' shirt. And the England No 11 then left the final ball of the innings outside his off-stump to the delight of the travelling fans. @Email:sports@thenational.ae

South Africa 291 & 447-7 England 273 & (second innings, overnight 132-3) Andrew Strauss c Amla b Harris 45 Andrew Cook c Boucher b De Wet 55 Jonathan Trott b Steyn 42 Kevin Pietersen lbw b Steyn 6 James Anderson c Prince b Harris 9 Paul Collingwood c Kallis b Duminy 40 Ian Bell c Smith b Morkel 78 Matt Prior c De Villiers b Duminy 4 Stuart Broad c De Villiers b Harris 0 Graeme Swann not out 10 Graham Onions not out 0 Extras (1b, 4lb, 1nb, 1w) 7 Total (for nine wickets, 141 overs) 296 Fall of wickets: 1-101, 2-107, 3-129, 4-153, 5-160, 6-272, 7-278, 8-286, 9-290. Bowling: Morkel 28-9-51-1 (1w, 1nb) Steyn 35-11-74-2 De Wet 12-5-23-1 Harris 40-14-85-3 Kallis 14-4-28-0 Duminy 12-3-30-2.