Perth Test: Bowlers grind down England before heaven opens up

Perth [Australia]: England were probably down and out after the end of fourth day’s play at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) Ground, here on Sunday.

At stumps, England were 131 for 4. They still require another 127 runs with six wickets in hand to make Australia bat again tomorrow.

Earlier, Australia resumed at 549 for 4. Double-centurion Steve Smith added just 10 runs to his overnight score of 229, before he was out lbw to English pacer James Anderson for a career-best 239.

Mitchell Marsh too did not stay for long at the crease, as he was out for a well-made 181 to Anderson, courtesy another lbw. Mitchell Starc was run out within the first five overs of today’s play to give England some hope of wrapping up the innings soon.

However, wicket-keeper Tim Paine and pacer Pat Cummins frustrated the English bowlers further and shared a vital 93-run partnership.

Anderson was the pick of the bowlers, as he got 4 for 112. The remaining bowlers struggled to pick up wickets.

In the end, Australia finally declared at 662 for 9. It was the ninth-highest total in Australia’s Test history and had earned a huge 259-run lead.

In the second innings, the openers Alastair Cook (14) and Mark Stonesman (3) were dismissed cheaply by Australian pacer Josh Hazelwood. Cook continued his poor form in this year’s Ashes.

England captain Joe Root (14) once again failed to stay put in the crease and wasted another opportunity to build his innings. He was dismissed by a brilliant delivery from spinner Nathan Lyon, to leave England tottering at 60 for 3.

James Vince and first-innings centurion Dawid Malan played beautiful shots to keep the scoreboard ticking. Vince got to his maiden Test fifty and looked quite promising.

There was a threat of rain showers earlier in Perth, according to an Australian meterological department’s forecast. Play was halted twice during the last session.

The 40-run partnership looked a bit threatening, before the rain breaks disturbed the momentum of Vince. He was undone by an inswinger from Starc and was dismissed for 55.

England were on the backfoot once again. This left Malan and Jonny Bairstow to fight it out, till bad light and rain stopped play for the third time.

England would be hoping to draw the Test tomorrow. There is a rain forecast for tomorrow as well. The Australian bowlers would be hoping to wrap up the English innings as soon as possible and win the series 3-0, and take the Ashes urn.

Australia are currently leading the five-match Ashes series 2-0 against England. They will regain the coveted urn if they win any of the final three remaining matches. (ANI)