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South Africa salvage draw against Australia; England lose series

South Africa salvage draw against Australia; England lose series

A defiant century from Jacques Rudolph ensured South Africa salvaged a draw in the opening test against Australia at the WACA yesterday.

Set a near-impossible 491 to win, South Africa successfully batted through the final day to finish on 287 for five after resuming on 85-2 then losing two early wickets.

Rudolph, who was called into the team as a late replacement for the injured Jacques Kallis, survived for more than seven hours to finish unbeaten on 102, frustrating the Australian bowlers with his sturdy defense and unwavering patience.

The Australians looked to be on course to win the match when they reduced the visitors to 138-4 before lunch but managed only one more wicket.

Rudolph and Justin Kemp held the fort for nearly three and a half hours, putting on 112 runs for the fifth wicket until Shane Warne dismissed Kemp for 55 after tea, leaving Mark Boucher (13 not out) to play out the last hour with Rudolph.

Rudolph, who started the day on 18 and was exhausted by the end of it, batted 431 minutes and faced 283 balls. He raised his fifth century just five overs before the close when he drove Warne through the covers for his 13th and final boundary.

South Africa made a terrible start to the day when Australian fast bowler Brett Lee dismissed Herschelle Gibbs and Warne removed Ashwell Prince lbw before lunch.

Gibbs fell for 33 when Lee found a thick edge and Warne took a sharp, low catch at first slip.

Warne, pitching the ball into the footmarks to try and extract more turn from a flat wicket, bowled a marathon 47 overs in the second innings, taking 3-83, but could not find a way behind the South Africans' defense.

With no real hope of winning, the tourists had no alternative other than to batten down the hatches with just 202 runs scored on the day, including 50 between lunch and tea when the result was still in the balance.

Rudolph crawled to his half-century off 150 balls in 230 minutes but did not offer the Australians a single chance, undermining their decision not to declare the previous day.

Kemp had a lucky escape in the last over before tea when he almost ran himself out but Glenn McGrath's throw missed the stumps.

He reached his half-century off 143 balls in a little over three hours but his resistance gave way on 55 when he was caught by Ricky Ponting at bat pad off Warne.

The second test starts in Melbourne next Monday with the final match in Sydney from January 2.

England to play for pride and rankings in final one-dayer

England will play for pride and points in the international rankings in the fifth and final one-day match against Pakistan here today after losing the series.

"It is not an ideal situation to go into the last match with the series already decided, but a lot of ranking points are up for grabs and a lot of pride in how we play," said acting captain Marcus Trescothick, after his team's narrow 13-run defeat late Monday.

Pakistan took an unassailable 3-1 lead, surviving a late-order England rally through Kabir Ali (39 not out) and Ian Blackwell (29) who added 50 for the ninth wicket after the home team managed a modest 210.

Ali then partnered last man James Anderson in a 33-run stand before paceman Shoaib Akhtar had Anderson caught in the slips by Younis Khan with 11 balls left in the fourth match.

England currently lie seventh in the ten-team International Cricket Council (ICC) one-day rankings. They are in danger of being relegated to the qualifying rounds of next year's ICC Champions Trophy.

Sides outside the top six in the ICC rankings next April 1 will have to play a qualifying round and England only have two more matches against India after the Pakistan series to avoid relegation.

The other four will have to take part in a qualifying round, with only two progressing to the tournament.

Fittingly, Pakistan can move above South Africa into second place behind Australia if they beat England by a margin of 4-1.

England have crashed to defeat in both the Test and one-day series aginst Pakistan just four months after their Ashes triumph against Australia.

"You dont become a bad team overnight and there are definite issues to address," said Trescothick. "We have not adapted to situations as well as we have done before.

"Whether that's a comedown from the Ashes I don't know, but you have to work even harder going into the next series, as people are waiting for you."

Trescothick said his side had been in a good position to win after dismissing Pakistan for 210 on Monday.

"Yeah, I think we were in a very good position to win, chasing 211. It did spin more than expected, but we didn't get partnerships going, lost wickets at the top of the order and it didn't go the way we wanted it to go," he said.

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was delighted to clinch the series.

"It is a fantastic win in a crucial match. Now we can try out one or two young players in the final match but the intensity to win the match will remain the same," he said.

India leads Sri Lanka

Harbhajan Singh grabbed seven wickets to help India to a 192-run lead over Sri Lanka in the third and final cricket Test here yesterday.

The off-spinner finished with 7-62 for his 17th haul of five or more wickets in a Test innings as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 206 at lunch on the third day in reply to India's first-innings 398.

A minor consolation for Sri Lanka was that they managed to cross the follow-on mark of 199, thanks to middle-order batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan's gutsy 65 for his fifth Test half-century.

Harbhajan was brilliantly supported by leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who finished with 2-87 in his 100th Test.

The off-spinner, who claimed four wickets on Monday, continued to trouble the batsmen with his turn and bounce. He took three of the five wickets in the morning session after the tourists had resumed on 131-5.

Dilshan was the only batsman to offer resistance to the double-spin attack, smashing eight fours in his 109-ball knock before being caught off his gloves by Mohammad Kaif at short-leg to become Harbhajan's sixth victim.

India lead 1-0 in the series following their 188-run win in the second Test at Delhi. The rain-hit opening Test at Chennai was drawn.