Test Match Sofa
Topsy-turvy day ends in draw
Benj Moorehead at Headingley
The second Test at Headingley between England and South Africa finished in the expected draw but the events of the final day were a reminder that you cannot underestimate Test cricket's capacity for surprise.
Shortly before 5pm on a sunny evening Kevin Pietersen walked out with Alastair Cook in an audacious attempt at chasing a target of 252 runs in 39 overs. He started well too, hitting Morne Morkel for three fours in the the first over of the innings.
Headingley was mostly a swath of blue seats but to those few of us who were here, there was a sense of something miraculous. Thoughts returned to Cardiff last year, when England took 10 Sri Lankan wickets in less than 25 overs on the last day.
Then Pietersen miscued and was caught at mid-on. Even then, Cook and Andrew Strauss batted as if they mean to keep up the chase and it was only when Strauss toe-ended a full toss from JP Duminy straight back at the bowler that an England victory could be dismissed.
Now it was South Africa's turn. Cook's fluent innings came to an end when Dale Steyn found his leading edge and Matt Prior was involved in a mix-up with Jonathan Trott and was run out.
Sniffing English blood, Steyn came hurtling in from the Kirkstall Lane End with one final spell of lightening pace aimed at the batsman's head but Trott and Bell held firm.
None of this was conceivable during a drab morning session in which the England bowlers failed to sparkle, Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph consolidated and two spells of drizzle put lunch back to 1.30pm.
Rudolph provided the only florets of the morning with crisp shots either side of the wicket. He was out on the stroke of lunch when Pietersen turned one past his bat and onto his back pad.
Strauss kept faith with Pietersen after lunch and was rewarded with the wickets of Smith, to a dubious bat-pad catch at short leg, and Hashim Amla, who slapped a full toss straight to cover.
None of this seemed more than a curious footnote, especially when AB de Villiers unveiled a string of glorious strokes. Then came Stuart Broad from Football Stand End.
Broad has underperformed in this series but this was one of his most sumptuous servings. The South African scorecard became infested with lbws, Broad's full length paying dividends. De Villiers, JP Duminy and Vernon Philander were all pinned in front within the space of 10 Broad deliveries.
But most impressive was Broad's dismissal of Jacques Kallis, whom he attacked with a series of vicious short balls, the last of which flicked the glove as the batsmen jerked his head back and went through to Prior. When Morkel shanked Broad into midwicket's hands it ended a spell of five wickets for 29 runs in 37 balls.
Smith then gave the game another injection of life with a declaration that kept everyone interested.
England now need to win the third Test at Lord's beginning on Thursday week to draw the series and maintain their No.1 Test ranking.
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