ENGLAND battled for a draw that ensures they cannot lose the series with South Africa after an absorbing finale in Cape Town.

Dogged resistance from Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, who stayed together at the crease for 57 overs, put the tourists in a good position, only for a spectacular collapse late in the day to threaten to undo all the good work.

Collingwood and Matt Prior went in quick succession and, when Bell was finally dismissed for 78, it left Graeme Swann and Graham Onions clinging on for dear life with 17 balls remaining.

JP Duminy raised hopes for the hosts when dismissing the excellent Collingwood and Prior.

Collingwood made 40 from 188 balls before being caught by Jacques Kallis at slip and wicketkeeper Prior lasted only nine balls as AB de Villiers held on at short-leg.

Stuart Broad did not last long either as he gloved a catch to de Villiers off Paul Harris.

Bell, so often criticised, followed up his 140 in Durban in the second Test with an innings of dedication and determination. However, he edged Morne Morkel to Graeme Smith to leave everybody on tenterhooks.

Swann, who has proved to be a real hero this series, and Onions survived some nervy moments to maintain England's 1-0 lead with one Test left to play.

It was Onions who had to see out the final over, from Morkel, and he was forced to wait for a referral on the penultimate ball of the match before rightly being given not out.

England finished on 296-9 as the travelling fans celebrated, safe in the knowledge that South Africa need victory in Johannesburg to avoid defeat in the four-match series.

"Just when we thought we'd nearly got there, South Africa came back again," said skipper Strauss.

"Graham Onions? He's a legend isn't he? We keep asking our number 11 to do the job for us.

"We're very thankful still to be 1-0 up in the series.

"I know how desperate Ian Bell's been to play an innings like that for England.

"He showed his class.

"It bodes well for the future and he's a pretty satisfied guy in the dressing room."


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