SA beat England, level series 1-1

Associated Press

Cape Town, January 6:

England’s 13-match unbeaten run came to an end on Thursday when South Africa won the third of five Tests by 196 runs to level the series at 1-1.

England had won 11 of its previous 13 Tests and drawn the other two, becoming the only Test team to avoid defeat in 2004. England’s last loss was to Sri Lanka in Colombo in December 2003. South Africa clinched the win 40 minutes before the scheduled tea break on the final day of the Test. Nicky Boje and Shaun Pollock took four wickets apiece as England was dismissed for 304 in its second innings.

There was a breezy career-best 42 — the top score in the innings — by Steve Harmison, but it didn’t avert England’s loss. It was only the seventh time in Tests that a No 11 batsman was top-scorer. His 42 came off 42 balls and included seven fours and a six.Pollock finished with four for 65 and Boje with four for 71, but it was Makhaya Ntini who finally finished things off by having Harmison well caught by Boeta Dippenaar in the gully.

South Africa grabbed two quick wickets before lunch to have England 225 for eight wickets.

England, 151 for five wickets overnight, lost Graham Thorpe soon after the new ball was taken, caught by wicketkeeper AB de Villiers off the exemplary bowling of Pollock. His stubborn 26 took 122 minutes, and represented the one hope England had of miraculously batting out a full day and snatching an unlikely draw.

Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles fashioned a 62-run partnership for the seventh wicket, but Boje struck twice before the break to have them both removed. Both fell to good slip catches low down by Jacques Kallis.

Their 83-minute period of defiance over, England’s undefeated pair at lunch were bowlers Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard, neither of whom were off the mark.