England deflate South Africa with another thrilling draw
by Jinu Sabastian
DateLine: 7th January 2010
England continued to give excellent an advertisement for Test cricket as they managed to change simple draw into a hard fought encounter for survival. Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood battled hard for their side as they very nearly drew the Test but for some late wickets which sprung the encounter to life. England's ultimate hero was once again their No. 11, Graham Onions, who reprised his heroics in the first Test at Centurion by seeing off the final six deliveries of the match to ensure that England will go to Johannesburg for next week's fourth and final Test with a 1-0 lead in the series.
Trott (42, 99 balls, 4x4) and Anderson (9, 52 balls, 1x4) began the day with only survival as their intent. They negotiated 45 minutes of the day’s play before some smart piece of thinking by Boucher brought Anderson’s wicket. Mark Boucher called Prince into the leg slip position to prevent Anderson from working the ball around and that proved to be a masterstroke move. Harris served up a low full-toss which Anderson attempted to slog-sweep but he under-edged his shot onto his front foot, and Prince reacted instantly to pluck the deflection one-handed.
At 153 for 4, England could have been in more worse situation when Harris produced a gem that fizzed past Collingwood’s bat and flew into the hands of Kallis at slip. Though the umpire's finger went up in an instant, Collingwood was equally quick to call for the review, and sure enough the replays showed that his hip had caused the deflection. Trott and Collingwood dug their heels in as they scored only seven runs coming from the next nine overs, with Collingwood taking 21 deliveries to get off the mark. Smith recalled Steyn for short burst the skipper was rewarded for his change. Trott who had been one of the thorns in the flesh of the South Africans had no answer to a superb full-length seamer that zipped through his gate and sent his off stump cartwheeling as England slipped to 160 for 5.
Steyn and Collingwood were engaged in an engaging battle and it was the question of who would blink first. Steyn repeatedly beat the outside edge of Collingwood but the gutsy right-hander would put that behind and get ready to face the next ball. Bell who has been ridiculed for being too soft took this opportunity to prove a point or two to his detractors that underneath his soft exterior he did have an iron spine. As the passage of play wore on Steyn began to lose his edge while Morne Morkel could not locate the ideal line and length to trouble the English pair. De Wet was down on pace and he posed literally no questions to the English pair as Smith turned to his spinner Harris and seamer Kallis for most part of the second and third session.
The pair put on 112 in 57 overs and just when it seemed that the draw was inevitable Duminy struck with his golden arm. Duminy found the edge of Collingwood’s bat which was snaffled eagerly by Kallis at first slip and then began a tension filled final ten overs. Collingwood battled hard for his 40 which consumed 188 balls and he found it very difficult to extract himself from the middle as he himself knew the fragility of his team-mates below him. With eight men were camped round the bat for the spinners Matt Prior (4, 9 balls, 1x4) was brilliantly scooped by AB de Villiers of Paul Harris as the drama unveiled. Stuart Broad (0, 22 balls) survived one referral for a catch at silly point, but was then nailed on the glove by a Harris lifter with 20 deliveries of the match remaining. Steyn was handed the ball for a final burst and he gave Bell a stern examination of his resolve, buzzing a full length on and around the top of off stump.
But it was the tall Morkel who made the critical break through with his first delivery of a new spell when he found extra bounce on a perfect length outside off, for Bell (78, 213 balls, 10x4) to fend to a gleeful Smith at first slip as South Africa sensed a sensational turnaround. That brought England’s last pair Swann and Onions at the crease and once again it was left to the last pair to bail their side out of trouble. Onions survived an anxious moment by riding a vicious fifth-ball lifter from Morkel inches short of gully. To add to the drama, Steyn then required physio treatment after seemingly tweaking his hamstring from the first ball of the penultimate over and it seemed that he would not be able to continue but the fiery paceman did not relent. He continued to finish the final five deliveries of his spell in full throttle but was unable to remove the final wicket. Everything, once again, came down to the final over and just as at Centurion, it was Onions who was left with the most unenviable. Morkel's height and pace provided a whole new examination of his grit and resolve, as he jabbed down coolly on a brace of probing yorkers, before hauling his bat inside the line of a snorting bouncer that kissed his shirt as it reached the gloves of Boucher. The whole of the South African side went up in appeal but the umpire negated it. A desperate Smith called for his final review in the hope of locating some glove but it was in vain. The final delivery was a sort of anti-climax as it was gently floated by Morkel outside off-stump which as soon as Onions left punched his arms towards the dressing room which was once again filled with scenes of joyous celebration.