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Monday, December 21, 2009

Thrilling finish out of the blue

South Africa 418 and 6/301 dec drew with England 356 & 9/228 (96ov, K Pietersen 81,J Trott 69): T1 D5 at Centurion.

For most of the last day fortunes fluctuated with a comfortable draw increasingly looking the likeliest result. Then came the last hour, when South Africa came from out of nowhere and put England under great pressure.

Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott restored a shaky 3/27 to 3/169 at tea. I heard one commentator suggest that Pietersen, 80* at that interval, might fancy having a crack at the 195 runs required from the last 36 overs. Maybe KP fancied himself: he'd batted well but it had been clear for much of the match that team England would be happy to settle for a draw. The pitch was OK as fifth day pitches go, which is to say that it wasn't conducive to a full on run chase, especially against the competent South African attack.

Well, just after tea Pietersen foolishly ran himself out by the length of the pitch, his 81/143b (11x4) now looking likely to go down as a match saving innings. When Trott and Paul Collingwood spent almost 20 overs moving from 4/172 to 205 when Trott was brilliantly caught in the slips by A B de Villiers off the combative Friedel de Wet. With 86 balls to be bowled the draw looked almost the only possible result.

Almost, but not quite. While Collingwood watched from the other end wickets fell at 207, 208, 209 and 218, leaving him and Graham Onions to face the last 19 balls, which they did. Actually Onions faced 12 of those balls, including the entire last over. Watch the highlights here:

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