England held on for a draw against South Africa in the third Test at Newlands after enduring a furious challenge from the hosts who grabbed four late wickets in a thrilling last hour on Thursday.
The victory preserves England’s 1-0 series lead and with only the fourth Test at the Wanderers next week remaining, the tourists are guaranteed at least a draw.
England, chasing 466 for an unlikely victory, escaped with the draw on a final total of 296 for nine wickets.
The middle-order duo of Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood was crucial to England’s escape, defying the South Africa attack for 56.3 overs and nearly four hours. The pair had taken England to 272-5 at the start of the final hour of the match. Collingwood then edged a ball from part-time spinner J. P. Duminy to Jacques Kallis at first slip to be out for 40.
Collingwood had batted 276 minutes and hit four fours. The pair added 112 runs for the sixth wicket for England, after coming together 36 minutes before lunch with the score on 160-5.
Duminy got his second wicket in 10 balls soon after, inducing new batsman Matt Prior on 4 to prod one to silly mid-on where A. B. de Villiers took a one-handed catch.
With 11 overs to take three wickets for victory, South Africa placed up to eight fielders around the bat with the spinners in attack, but Bell and Stuart Broad defended well.
England had also scraped a draw with nine wickets down two Tests ago in Pretoria.
With the score on 286, though, spinner Paul Harris got Broad to edge one to short-leg for De Villiers to take another catch. Broad had faced 22 balls for his duck, and when he departed on 286-8, there were 20 balls left in the match.
Three balls later Bell’s marathon innings came to an end after 286 minutes, when he edged Morne Morkel to Graeme Smith at first slip. Bell scored 78, with 10 fours, leaving the last-wicket pair needing to survive 17 balls to salvage a draw.
This they managed, with No. 11 batsman Graham Onions facing the entire last over, as he had done in the first test in Pretoria last month. He succeeded, even though South Africa asked for a review after the penultimate ball, suspecting a catch behind the wicket.
The appeal was over-ruled. Onions ended on 0 not out from 11 balls and Graeme Swann finished on 10 not out off 8 balls with 2 fours.
Duminy, who made the initial breakthrough in the final session to remove Collingwood, ended with figures of 2-30. Steyn finished on 2-74, while Harris took 3-85.
The fourth and final Test in the series starts at the Wanderers next Thursday. The Tests in Pretoria and Cape Town ended in draws, while England won by an innings in Durban last week.
England started the final day of the Test on 132-3, and reached lunch on 179-5, and tea on 230-5.
South Africa fast bowlers Steyn and Morkel gave Bell and Collingwood a torrid time with the second new ball just after lunch, with Steyn in particular inducing several dangerous shots as he bowled four maidens in a row at one stage.
Harris and Steyn were the Proteas’ wicket-takers in the morning session. Harris nabbed the wicket of nightwatchman James Anderson for nine, when the left-hander swept a full toss onto his foot and directly to leg-slip Ashwell Prince with the score on 153. Anderson faced 52 balls and hit one four.
Seven balls later new batsman Collingwood survived at the crease after being given out, caught at slip off his hip. Collingwood, still on 0, referred the decision to the TV umpire, who ruled him not out.
But Steyn struck an early blow for the hosts when he bowled overnight batsman Jonathan Trott for 42 between bat and pad. Steyn sent the off-stump cartwheeling with a delivery that cut back, and went to lunch with figures of 2-40. Trott, who began the day on 24 not out, batted 153 minutes and hit four fours.