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Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Sunday, 20 December 2009

England scrape draw in first Test with South Africa

First Test, Centurion (day five):
South Africa 418 & 301-7 dec drew with England 356 & 228-9 Match scorecard


It shouldn't have been that close - Strauss

By Jamie Lillywhite

England survived a dramatic collapse to salvage a draw in a thrilling finish to the first Test against South Africa.

The tourists resumed on 11-1 needing a distant 364 but two wickets fell in the first 13 overs before Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott calmly shared 145.

But Pietersen (81) inexplicably called for a run and Trott stood his ground.

Trott made 69 before debutant Friedel de Wet struck three times as five fell for 13 but Graham Onions kept out the final over as England closed on 228-9.

Having slumped to 27-3, the fourth-wicket partnership left all results still possible at the tea interval, with 195 needed from the remaining 35 overs.

Even after Pietersen's needless dismissal, Trott's resolute fifty, to add to his century on his debut in the final Ashes Test last summer, looked to have guided England to a comfortable draw.

The South Africans took the second new ball at the start of the final hour almost as a token final gamble, but 29-year-old De Wet, regularly bowling in excess of 90mph, captured 3-2 in four overs.

Slow left-armer Paul Harris took the eighth wicket when Stuart Broad was clearly caught behind, a decision upheld after a replay borne out of sheer desperation, and there were 44 balls of the match remaining.

We played the better circket - Smith

Hero of the first innings Graeme Swann was then trapped plumb lbw by Morne Morkel, the final referral used out of even greater despair and quickly rejected, leaving three overs and one ball for last man Onions to survive with county colleague Collingwood, who made 26 from 99 balls.

The final over was given to Makhaya Ntini, in his 100th Test, but Onions defended resolutely, keeping out one that crept low and would have defeated many a top order player, and England escaped to ensure the series heads to Durban for the Boxing Day Test with the series still 0-0.

Pietersen had produced a masterful innings and looked set for his third century in only five Tests against the South Africans.

Never one to be dictated to, he brought up the 50 in the 27th over with a crunching cover drive for four.

He had one notable moment of anxiety on 39 when he was knocked off his feet by one that kept low from Morkel and the ball would have knocked out middle stump, but umpire Steve Davis correctly spotted a no-ball and South Africa captain Graeme Smith incorrectly thought he could refer the decision.

Pietersen duly flicked the next ball for four and quickly advanced to his 16th Test fifty, which came from just 76 deliveries.

His partner Trott was less flamboyant, as the vast majority of batsmen are, but played a pivotal role nonetheless.

Such was the dominance of England's South African-born pair that Smith called on Jacques Kallis to send down three experimental overs despite not being fully fit following a rib injury.

There were few alarms until Pietersen pushed a single without even looking at his startled partner and arrived at the non-striker's end whilst Trott was still bellowing a refusal of the run.

Bowler De Wet simply gathered the ball and took off the bails in mid-stride and suddenly it looked a different game.


New batsman Collingwood soon edged just short of second slip as the South Africans attempted to crank up the pressure and sneak an unlikely win in the closing overs.

Trott remained admirably calm, however, to guide his team to the final hour, but the South Africans took one last gamble with the second new ball and once again the harder seam of a shiny Kookaburra produced results.

A brutal delivery from De Wet rose up and caught Trott on the thumb, with AB de Villiers taking a stunning low one-handed catch to his left at third slip.

That brought in Ian Bell, well aware of the need to justify his selection after the embarrassment of his first innings dismissal when he left a straight ball.

He could only edge another impressive De Wet delivery and Mark Boucher took an outstanding low catch.

When Matt Prior fell in similar fashion it looked as though England were heading for another of their ignominious defeats, but they were indebted once again to the fighting qualities of Collingwood.

He had shielded Onions expertly, but looking for a single to retain the strike off the final ball of the penultimate over he timed it too well and it trickled for four, although his partner showed admirable composure as the final-wicket pair did Durham and England proud.

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see also
Strauss relief after 'crazy hour'
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Smith frustrated not to seal win
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South Africa v England photos
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England deflated by Amla century
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Swann inspires England fightback
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Swann keeps England in contention
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Kallis century frustrates England
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Ntini reaches 100-Test milestone
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Live cricket on the BBC
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England in South Africa 2009-10
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