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Rediff.com  » Cricket » England hold on for improbable draw in first Ashes Test

England hold on for improbable draw in first Ashes Test

July 12, 2009 23:36 IST

England tailenders James Anderson and Monty Panesar denied Australia victory in the first Ashes Test with an heroic unbeaten last-wicket stand before an ecstatic capacity 16,000-strong crowd in Cardiff on Sunday.

Victory seemed assured for the Australians when Paul Collingwood was dismissed for 74 after five hours 43 minutes of dogged resistance with England still needing six to make Australia bat again and a minimum 11.3 overs remaining.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting put his faith in off-spinners Nathan Hauritz and Marcus North for the final overs after taking pace bowler Peter Siddle out of the attack.

Anderson (21 not out) and Panesar (seven not out), playing resolutely straight, defied the bowling with the former negotiating the final over from Hauritz to tumultuous applause.

The day began brightly for Australia when Ben Hilfenhaus, bustling in from the River End, captured the wicket Australia prized most by knocking over Kevin Pietersen's off-stump in the fourth over of the day.

Pietersen, on eight, moved half forward and opted to leave alone a delivery he calculated would swing away. Instead it went straight on.

HONOURS EVEN

Hauritz took over from Hilfenhaus and immediately troubled captain Andrew Strauss and Collingwood with four fielders clustered close around the bat.

Strauss square-cut the first boundary of the day but was out off the next ball caught behind by Brad Haddin for 17 attempting a similar shot from a delivery which bounced a little higher.

Hauritz was gifted a second wicket when Matt Prior (14) made the elementary error of trying to cut an off-spinner which turned appreciably and succeeded only in guiding the ball to Michael Clarke at first slip.

Andrew Flintoff (26) and Collingwood added 57 in a fighting sixth-wicket partnership with the former playing a thumping drive to the cover boundary and a clip for four to long-on.

He was out edging Mitchell Johnson to second slip where Ponting took a smart, low catch.

Collingwood, taking no risks at all, reached 50 from 167 balls but lost Stuart Broad lbw for 17 to Hauritz 20 minutes before tea.

Graeme Swann rallied after the interval, playing one lovely drive to the extra-cover boundary off Hilfenhaus. He reached 31 from 81 minutes when he was lbw playing across a full delivery from the same bowler.

Collingwood fought on, but when he was caught off Siddle at gully by Michael Hussey at the second attempt, England seemed doomed.

But Anderson, who batted for 72 minutes, and Panesar, who resisted for 40, held firm and England will go into the second Test at Lord's starting on Thursday with honours even.

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