England deny South Africa in gripping finale

England’s last pair of Graeme Swann and Graham Onions survived 17 balls to salvage a thrilling draw in the third Test against South Africa on Thursday and keep their side 1-0 ahead in the series.

England suffered a dramatic collapse in the final session after Paul Collingwood (40) and Ian Bell (78) had shared a four-hour partnership to take them to the brink of safety.

Part-time spinner JP Duminy induced an edge from Collingwood to slip just after the match entered its final hour and three more wickets fell for 18 runs in 10.4 overs.

Duminy had Matt Prior caught close to the bat and Morne Morkel and Paul Harris grabbed wickets to leave England on 290 for nine with 2.5 overs remaining.

But Swann and Onions, who also salvaged a draw for England in similar circumstances in the first Test, defended stoutly to keep out fast bowlers Morkel and Dale Steyn.

“It wasn’t fun the first time and the second time was a lot worse,” England captain Andrew Strauss said at the presentation ceremony. “Graham Onions is a legend isn’t he? He’s done the job twice for us.”

South Africa captain Graeme Smith praised his own team and their opponents.

“England have shown a lot of strength throughout this tour,” he said. “From our perspective it’s been a great test but unfortunately we never had the knock out blow.”

Ferocious bowling
Collingwood and Bell came together half-an-hour before lunch and batted through the afternoon session, surviving a ferocious spell of fast bowling from Steyn.

South Africa took the second new ball and, generating great pace, repeatedly beat the bat without finding an edge.

Bell scored quicker than Collingwood and reached his 22nd test half-century off 134 deliveries.

England were clinging on as they stumbled to 179 for five at lunch, thoughts of a world-record run-chase long gone as they sought to survive after starting the day on 132 for three chasing 466 for victory.

Nightwatchman James Anderson battled on for another 46 minutes, taking his score to nine when he tried to hit a Harris full toss through the leg-side and edged the ball on to his boot from where it flew to leg-slip and Ashwell Prince took a fine reflex catch.

Steyn bowled two short spells of three overs each and in his fifth over he ripped a delivery back into Jonathan Trott to bowl him for 42.

The final Test in Johannesburg starts on January 14.

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