Birmingham: Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood batted England back into contention on the third day of the third Test against South Africa at Edgbaston on Friday.
England were 297 for six at the close, an overall lead of 213, with Collingwood capping a return to form in glorious fashion by reaching his sixth Test century with a six off left-arm spinner Paul Harris.
He finished the day on 101 not out. Pietersen made 94 before falling when he tried to hit a six off Harris.
He and Collingwood had brought England back into the game in thrilling style with a fifth wicket stand of 115 off 138 balls but when Andrew Flintoff was out four balls after Pietersen it seemed South Africa were on the way to victory.
But Collingwood and Tim Ambrose added an unbeaten 76 against lacklustre bowling to raise English hopes of a come-from-behind win which would level the series with one match to play.
After a watchful start, Pietersen was looking in total command when he twice in the space of three balls reverse-pulled Harris for boundaries.
At that stage the South African bowlers were looking ineffectual in the best batting conditions of the match, with the sun shining and the ball not deviating through the air or off an easy-paced pitch.
But Pietersen was out to the first ball of Harris' next over when he danced down the pitch. He mistimed the ball and was caught by AB de Villiers three-quarters of the way to the long-on boundary.
Pietersen batted for 186 minutes, faced 136 balls and hit 13 fours. Four balls later Flintoff was caught off bat and pad at short leg off Harris and South Africa were on top again.
Collingwood, who had reached his half-century off 61 balls, batted cautiously for a period but with Ambrose proving a solid partner he lifted the tempo towards the end of the day to notch his century off 133 deliveries with 14 fours to add to the six which brought a capacity crowd to their feet.
Earlier Mark Boucher made 40 as South Africa took a first innings lead of 83, adding 58 runs for the loss of their last four wickets.
England opener Alastair Cook survived a confident appeal for leg before wicket off the first ball he faced from Andre Nel but made only nine before mistiming a hook against Makhaya Ntini.
Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher ran 25m towards square leg to hold the catch. England captain Michael Vaughan failed again when he was out for 17 and he was followed by Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell in an extended afternoon session.
Vaughan, under pressure after making only 23 runs in his first four innings in the series, batted aggressively and struck four solid boundaries in an 18-ball innings before a drive against Nel was held by a diving Hashim Amla at mid-off.
Strauss batted confidently for his 25 before he was caught at second slip off Morne Morkel, bowling around the wicket.
Bell looked disgusted with himself when he top-edged a hook against Ntini to offer a simple catch to Boucher, running towards fine leg, after making 20.
But Pietersen and Collingwood gave England a chance of levelling the series. The highest fourth innings total in a Test at Edgbaston is 279 by Australia in the 2005 Ashes series when they fell an agonising three runs short of victory.