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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Boxing Day Test: Rain pours water on England's hopes of win

Boxing Day Test: Rain pours water on England's hopes of win

Last updated on: December 29, 2017 14:32 IST

Images from Day 4 of the 4th Test at MCG in Melbourne on Friday

Covers laid on the pitch during a rain delay on Day 4 of the fourth Ashes cricket Test match

IMAGE: Covers laid on the pitch during a rain delay on Day 4 of the fourth Ashes cricket Test match. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

A morning that brought two wickets for England and a sniff of a drought-breaking Ashes win gave way to a bleak afternoon for the tourists on Friday as rain washed out most of day four on Friday and left Australia well-placed to save the fourth test.

The home side were 103 for two in their second innings at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when rain interrupted play before tea and the showers lingered long enough for umpires to abandon the day without another ball bowled.

David Warner was 40 not out, with captain Steve Smith on 25 and Australia still needing another 61 runs to make England bat again.

Australia's David Warner misses ball while batting on Day 4

IMAGE: Australia's David Warner misses ball while batting on Day 4. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

But even with the promise of reverse swing, Joe Root's bowlers face a big task on an unresponsive pitch to prevent Australia's batsmen from batting them out of the game.

"(The pitch) is getting slower," Australia coach Darren Lehmann told host broadcaster Channel Nine. "It's tough work for a new batter. So once you're in, you've got to stay in.

"Our boys are fighting really hard. A couple of good (England) balls to get the wickets and Smith and the vice- captain (Warner) went about their work."

England's James Anderson celebrates on dismissing Australia's Usman Khawaja

IMAGE: England's James Anderson celebrates on dismissing Australia's Usman Khawaja. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Australia regained the Ashes after the third test in Perth and hold an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series but England had hope of cracking a first win after Alastair Cook's unbeaten 244 propelled them to a first innings lead of 164.

They had resumed their first innings on 491-9 in the morning but were unable to extend their total, with tail-ender James Anderson dismissed first ball by paceman Pat Cummins, fending a catch straight to Cameron Bancroft at short leg.

England's Alastair Cook walks off the ground at the end of England's first innings

IMAGE: England's Alastair Cook walks off the ground at the end of England's first innings. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

That left former captain Cook unbeaten on 244, a record total among openers who have carried their bat through an innings.

Cook became the 46th player to achieve the feat in tests and also the first England batsman to do so in 20 years, since Mike Atherton's 94 not out against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1997.

Australia's second innings began brightly on a cloudy but dry morning, with England losing a review for a caught behind decision when opener Bancroft played at a Tom Curran ball in the seventh over of the innings.

England's Chris Woakes reacts after bowling Australia's Cameron Bancroft 

IMAGE: England's Chris Woakes reacts after bowling Australia's Cameron Bancroft. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

However, the tourists seamers struck twice to leave Australia wobbling at 65-2 before Warner and Smith showed patience and poise in their unbroken stand of 38.

All-rounder Chris Woakes made the early breakthrough, bowling Bancroft for 27, with England quick Anderson having number three Usman Khawaja caught behind for 11.

Australia resumed on 70-2 after lunch but added only 16 runs before the first rain interruption.

Play was soon back on but only another 33 minutes were possible before the session was brought to a premature close.

Source:
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