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Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 18:47 UK

Defiant England cling on for draw

First Ashes Test, Cardiff (day five): England 435 & 252-9 drew with Australia 674-6 declared
Match scorecard

Monty Panesar and James Anderson
Panesar and Anderson were England's heroes on Sunday

By Oliver Brett

Paul Collingwood hit a valiant 74 and England's last-wicket pair defied Australia for 40 minutes to clinch a draw in the first Ashes Test.

England, 20-2 overnight, lost three further wickets inside 90 minutes but somehow clung on in the final stages.

Collingwood's innings lasted 245 balls - five hours and 43 minutes in all.

Then, amid scenes of high tension, with every dot ball roared by a capacity crowd, James Anderson and Monty Panesar kept Australia's spinners at bay.

Ponting defends tactical decisions

Collingwood's was a display of grisly determination, which put the efforts of other players in the top order sharply into perspective.

But with 50 minutes to go in the match, and England still a tantalising six runs away from making Australia bat again, the Durham man played probably his first risky shot.

Tom rates England's players

Attempting to steer Peter Siddle wide of point for four he instead hit the ball high to the fielder. Michael Hussey parried a catch above his head, before taking it - agonisingly - at the second opportunity.

It seemed now, with Panesar coming out to join Anderson, that England would lose in heart-breaking fashion. But the last man refused to be an easy target, and when Anderson squirted Siddle down to third man for four, England had a precious lead.

Significantly, that meant England did not have to bat until the 1850 BST cut-off. They just had to get past 1840, which meant facing around three overs fewer.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who seemed to underbowl his hugely impressive swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, gave the final few overs to the two off-spinners Nathan Hauritz and Marcus North.

But Hauritz, though he had bowled brilliantly earlier in the day when he took three significant wickets, was by now tired and North was not a danger to two vastly improved tail-enders.

James Anderson and Monty Panesar
Anderson and Panesar defied the odds to frustrate Australia

When the clock ticked past 1840 BST, an excitable crowd knew that Hauritz was bowling the last over. Anderson survived his 53rd delivery - Panesar had hung around for 35 - and the ground saluted a famous result.

Dreadful batting earlier in the day had seemed to ensure that anything other than an Australian win would be extremely unlikely. Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior all had only themselves to blame by getting dismissed in the first hour and a half.

Pietersen left a straight ball before Strauss and Prior played cross-batted attacking shots at balls that could have been safely ignored.

It was horrible to watch - Strauss

The first wicket of the morning fell in only the fourth over. Pietersen had already left one Hilfenhaus delivery that went straight on, the ball flicking his pad as he survived an lbw appeal. But he did not learn the lesson, again pulling out of a forward defensive - and the ball flattened the stumps.

Ponting wasted little time in bringing Hauritz into the attack, and Hauritz wasted little time in bringing about the next huge blow to England's ambitions of salvation.

Strauss followed up one square cut off the spinner for four by attempting a repeat next ball and nicking it straight into Brad Haddin's gloves. It was a depressing way for the captain to get out and he lingered at the crease for several seconds.

The message did not seem to be getting through to the others, as Prior soon aimed an outrageous attempted slash outside off-stump at Peter Siddle - and missed.

Paul Collingwood
Collingwood played superbly before falling on 74

Meanwhile Hauritz was bowling really well, finding drift, bounce and varied amounts of turn.

Collingwood was making him look like Muttiah Muralitharan on a particularly good day, but at least he was surviving, just - despite almost giving short-leg a catch and having to trap a delivery with his boot as it ricocheted towards his stumps.

Prior, on the other hand, persisted with risky cuts, and eventually edged one to slip.

England were surely staring at a massive defeat, but Collingwood was at last playing with some sort of fluency and in Andrew Flintoff - who scored a century to save a Test in Antigua in 2004 - finally found a partner whose mind was not completely riddled with uncertainty.

They took England to 102-5 at lunch, still 137 behind, with Collingwood on 35 and Flintoff 11.

But things started to look dicey again soon after the interval when Hilfenhaus, in bright sunshine, got the ball to swing in both directions - something that bemused the England dressing-room balcony given the travails of the home team's bowlers.

Collingwood's tenacity continued - he did not mind having to wait 45 minutes to advance his score after lunch. But Flintoff never completely settled, and his 23-over stay at the crease was finally ended when he edged a delivery from Mitchell Johnson that did nothing untoward, and the catch was taken low down at second slip.

The deflated Australians troop off the field
Nathan Hauritz and Ricky Ponting saw the Aussies come so close

After narrowly surviving a desperately close lbw appeal first ball, Stuart Broad produced a determined effort, showing up many of the specialist batsmen in the side, but failed to get through to tea. Playing back to Hauritz when perhaps he might have chosen to go forward he was pinned lbw on middle stump.

Next, Graeme Swann did his best to play doughty sidekick to Collingwood, and he batted until tea and for an hour beyond - initially weathering a ferocious over from Siddle in which he was hit twice by bouncers, requiring the physio each time.

When the new ball failed to provide an immediate breakthrough - Hilfenhaus bowled beautifully, Johnson waywardly - there was genuine hope that the match could be drawn.

But with 19 overs left in the day, Swann went for a pull shot off Hilfenhaus, the ball kept a little low, and he was out lbw, leaving Australia just two wickets away from victory.

The tension cranked up another gear as Anderson became the next batsman to play a courageous hand, and gradually England moved closer to the score they had to reach to make the Aussies bat again.

When Collingwood fell to Siddle, England fans were briefly silenced, but when the match finished in glorious sunshine they left Test cricket's newest venue with a lot of pleasant memories - even if it was "only" a draw.

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see also
Escape will spur us on - Strauss
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England tactics frustrate Ponting
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Jonathan Agnew column
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England v Australia photos day five
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Australia charge thwarted by rain
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Clarke & North make England toil
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Aussie batsmen dominate England
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England make solid start to Ashes
08 Jul 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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