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08-Sep-2019 03:45:00 GMT
Eng v Aus - 4th Test, Old Trafford, day 4

Australia close in on retaining Ashes after late England wickets

Manchester: England's hopes of saving the Ashes faded with the loss of two late wickets on the fourth day of the fourth Test against Australia at Old Trafford.

Faced with the prospect of having to bat for 30 minutes on Saturday evening and another 98 overs on Sunday, the home side saw Rory Burns and Joe Root depart to successive Pat Cummins deliveries.

From the third ball of the innings, Burns got a leading edge to mid-off, while Root was bowled by a wonderful delivery that trimmed the off bail.

Somehow, Joe Denly and Jason Roy got through the next six overs as England closed on 18-2.

England earlier had a revival thwarted by yet more runs from Steve Smith.

When the tourists were reduced to 44-4, with Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer tearing in, their lead was 240, only for Smith to add 82 to his first-innings 211.

It allowed Australia to declare on 186-6 and set England 383 to win or, more realistically, bat out the remainder of the match.

If they fail, holders Australia will be 2-1 up with only one Test remaining and assured of taking the urn back down under for the first time since 2001.

England have not batted through the final day of a Test to earn a draw for more than six years, but the pitch remains placid, even if there has been the occasional sign of low bounce.

Broad has been magnificent throughout the series and has turned Warner into a walking wicket. Here, it took six balls for Broad to pin the left-hander lbw for his third successive duck, the sixth time he has dismissed him in eight innings.

Brief scores:
England 301 (Burns 81, Root 71, Hazlewood 4-57) and 18 for 2 need another 365 runs to beat Australia 497 for 8 dec (Smith 211, Broad 3-97) and 186 for 6 dec (Smith 82)

England were bowling a fuller length than in the first innings. Broad trapped Marcus Harris leg before and the improved Archer, his pace above 90mph, made Marnus Labuschagne the third lbw of the innings before uprooting Travis Head's middle stump.

It was electrifying bowling, matched by the atmosphere, with Smith also troubled by Broad in particular.

But Craig Overton and Jack Leach could not continue the pressure and Smith took back control in a fourth-wicket stand of 105 with Matthew Wade.

As Smith passed 50, there were times when he seemed to be poking fun at England, playing incredible strokes to hit the ball wherever he pleased.

Only in the push for the declaration did he loft Leach to long-off and Australia called time 37 runs later.


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