England salvage Ashes draw

ENGLAND mustered a final-day batting performance of supreme defiance to rescue the unlikeliest of draws from the first Ashes Test in Cardiff yesterday.<br /><br />After the home side had lost three quick wickets in a disastrous start to the day all-rounder Paul Collingwood frustrated Australia with a heroic 245-ball <br />stint that lasted almost six hours.<br /><br />And when he departed last-wicket pair James Anderson and Monty Panesar dug their heels in for another 40 minutes to ensure England will go into the second Test at Lord&rsquo;s on Thursday on level terms.<br /><br />Such an outcome had seemed unthinkable, with Andrew Strauss&rsquo;s men staring a humiliating innings defeat in the face for most of the day.<br /><br />Resuming on 20-2 and needing 219 runs to avoid an innings loss, England suffered a miserable first session, slumping to 70-5 before lunch.<br /><br />Kevin Pietersen was the first casualty, losing his off-stump to Ben Hilfenhaus, and captain Strauss soon followed, caught behind after mistiming a cut off Nathan Hauritz.<br /><br />Matt Prior went next, his attempted late-cut finding Michael Clarke at slip and, still needing to bat out another two sessions, England looked doomed.<br /><br />But Collingwood had other ideas. Having escaped a scare early on, when he gloved Hauritz onto his pad only for the ball to evade Simon Katich at short-leg, the Durham man was content to defend. And he and Andrew Flintoff put on 57 runs before the Lancashire all-rounder edged Mitchell Johnson to Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting at first slip. <br /><br />Stuart Broad helped add another 32 before becoming Nathan Hauritz&rsquo;s third victim of the day while Graeme Swann was eventually also dismissed lbw, this time by Hilfenhaus.<br /><br />Things took a turn for the worse when, with 11.3 overs left and England still trailing by six runs, Collingwood&rsquo;s valiant effort finally ended, Michael Hussey catching at the second attempt in the gully.<br /><br />But Anderson and Panesar battled on in the same spirit and stood firm for 69 deliveries. Anderson nudged England past Australia&rsquo;s total with successive boundaries, trimming 10 minutes off the match in the process. <br /><br />And paceman Anderson clinched the sweetest draw of Strauss&rsquo;s short captaincy by scrambling a bye off the final ball from Hauritz.