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Jul 13, 2009

Ashes: England to escape from the first Test

England last pair Jimmy Anderson & Monty Panesar proved their country's unlikely batting heroes when the hosts defy the rules of probability by drawing the first Ashes test against Australia on Sunday.

Australia, who had dominated the match in all sections for the first four days, were moving inexorably to what emerged an inevitable 1-0 lead in the five-match series as the England batsmen found new ways to gift their wickets.

Ex-Skipper Paul Collingwood was the exception, fighting a single battle for the best part of six hours. But when he was out for 74 England still needed six runs to make Australia bat 2nd innings with a minimum 11.3 overs left in the day's play.

Panesar was greeted with the vast cheer he gets whenever he chases a ball in the field or comes out to bat as England's last man. Unlike his fielding, however, Panesar can bat and he played determinedly straight to everything the Australian bowlers could hurl at him.

"I was pretty anxious but Jimmy and I were communicating pretty well," Panesar told a news conference.

"We just said to each other play the ball directly and watch the ball hard. Now we're sitting here with a draw."

Two boundaries to Anderson off destructive paceman Peter Siddle persuaded Australia captain Ricky Ponting to bring on occasional off-spinner Marcus North to accompany the specialist Nathan Hauritz.

Ponting protected his decision by saying both men spun the ball away from the left-handers and would get their overs finished quickly in the final hour.

But England captain Andrew Strauss said he think left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson would have been a better choice & Anderson did not hide his relief at facing North rather than a fast bowler.

"Certainly when Marcus North came on we thought we had a great chance," he said.

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