England strike twice to give victory hopes a boost

Lunch Australia 327 and 4 for 178 (Smith 50*) lead England 491 by 14 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

David Warner crawled to the slowest half-century of his Test career and Australia moved into the lead, but the wickets of Warner and Shaun Marsh gave England’s victory hopes a boost on the final day at the MCG. Marsh edged behind off Stuart Broad for 4 on the stroke of lunch, leaving Steven Smith unbeaten on 50, with Australia on 4 for 178. Their lead was only 14 runs.

It had been a slow-scoring two-and-a-half-hour session for the Australians, most of the time being spent by Smith and Warner occupying the crease and increasing Australia’s chances of playing out a draw. The first 14 overs of the day brought only 20 runs as the batsmen focused almost exclusively on survival.

Warner brought up his fifty from his 161st delivery and gradually lifted his tempo a little, moving to within sight of becoming the first batsman in history to score a hundred in each innings of a Test on four separate occasions. However, on 86, Warner’s eyes lit up at the appearance of Joe Root’s part-time offspin and he tried unsuccessfully to clear the infield, only to sky a catch to cover.

Smith batted on and just before lunch brought up his half-century from his 151st delivery, a patient effort, though not the slowest fifty of his Test career. The loss of Marsh from the final ball before the break, well caught by Jonny Bairstow moving to his left, left England needing six more wickets to get through Australia’s lower order and push for a 3-1 series scoreline.

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