Paul Collingwood's determined effort proved just enough on Sunday as England secured a nailbiting Ashes Test draw in Cardiff.
Last-wicket pair James Anderson and Monty Panesar delivered a defiant unbroken partnership to secure a thrilling draw for England in the opening Ashes Test.
Dominated by Australia for the majority of the match in Cardiff, England delivered a determined display to salvage a draw just as they seemed set to subside to a comprehensive defeat.
Having slipped to 70 for five in the morning session of the final day to face the prospect of a humiliating innings defeat, Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood spearheaded England's stunning fightback with a magnificent 74 spanning 343 minutes at the crease.
But with a minimum of 11.3 overs remaining and England still trailing Australia by six runs, Collingwood fell to a juggling catch in the gully to leave England's slim prospects resting on Anderson and Panesar.
Neither player has much of a pedigree with a bat in their hands, although Anderson has worked hard at that aspect of his game and Panesar has been receiving coaching from Collingwood recently in an effort to increase his contribution as a tail-ender.
That work behind the scenes paid rich dividends for England with the pair repelling 69 deliveries and defying Australia's best efforts for 40 minutes to provide a thrilling finish for a crowd who gave them a standing ovation at the end of every over they survived.
It was a finish every bit as gripping as those served up in 2005 and sets the stage for another exciting series just as Australia seemed set to complete an emphatic and comfortable victory.
England had resumed the final day on 20 for two still 219 runs away from avoiding an innings defeat with Collingwood having set the stage for the task ahead by calling for each player to take responsibility to save the match.
It was a call not heeded by his team-mates in the top order with England losing three wickets for 19 runs before lunch to loose shots which appeared to have rendered the result a formality.
Key batsman Kevin Pietersen began the top-order slump by shouldering arms to swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus and losing his off-stump in the fourth over of the day.
Captain Andrew Strauss followed suit six overs later by mistiming an attempted cut and being caught behind to earn much-maligned off-spinner Nathan Hauritz one of three victims on the final day to firmly answer those critics who doubted his effectiveness in this series.
The killer blow to England's hopes of saving the game was Matt Prior's misjudgement in attempting to late-cut Hauritz and instead gave a comfortable catch to Michael Clarke at slip.
With men around the bat and the ball turning on a final-day wicket, it was far from comfortable for Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff as they attempted to bat more than two sessions to save the match.
Collingwood was fortunate early in his innings when he had reached just 11 when he gloved Hauritz onto his pad only for the ball to loop out of the reach of Simon Katich at short leg.
After that narrow escape, Collingwood relied on playing the spinners off the back foot to deny the close fielders any encouragement and seemed happy to survive rather than add to England's total.
It took him 32 balls after lunch to add his first run and with Flintoff also resisting his natural instincts to play aggressively, they added 57 until the Lancashire all-rounder edged left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson to slip.
Stuart Broad became Hauritz's third victim when he fell lbw to a full-length delivery which skidded on off the wicket and all but the most optimistic of England supporters must have
all but given up hope when Graeme Swann arrived at the crease shortly before tea.
Having scored an unbeaten 47 in the first innings by driving anything full, Swann's technique against the short ball was given a thorough workout with Peter Siddle hitting him three times in one over, prompting physio Steve McCaig to twice provide treatment.
Swann survived that barrage to keep Collingwood company for 80 crucial minutes, only falling lbw to the new ball when he mistimed an attempted pull off swing bowler Hilfenhaus.
While Collingwood was at the crease, England still retained hope of denying Australia just as last pair Darren Powell and Fidel Edwards did for West Indies against them in Antigua during the winter as they pushed for victory.
But having repelled 245 deliveries in his defiant innings – the majority of them defended in determined style – Collingwood was unable to finish the job and edged Siddle to Michael Hussey in the gully, who collected the catch at the second attempt.
Collingwood's head dropped, knowing he had come so close to a match-saving innings of the highest order, but he had provided the blueprint for England's last-wicket pair to finish off the job.
On several occasions Anderson and Panesar seemed unsure about whether to take the runs on offer or just survive, but when Anderson squirted successive boundaries behind square off Siddle to take England into the lead their task became considerably easier.
Knowing they had to face two overs less – the number stipulated in the laws to be taken off the overs remaining for a change of innings – suddenly the dramatic end to the game was in England's sights.
Their stunning fightback was completed with Anderson scrambling a bye off the final ball from Hauritz after England twice sent 12th man Bilal Shafayat on with towels in a desperate attempt to waste time and deny Australia the opportunity to bowl extra overs in the allotted time.
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