Bad weather boosts England's chances of third Test draw

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England's hopes of saving the third Test and retaining the Ashes have been boosted, after a combination of bad light and rain ended play early on the fourth day at Old Trafford.

Australia had reached 172-7 - giving them a second innings lead of 331 - when the umpires called the players off to the obvious disappointment of the tourists' captain Michael Clarke.

England had earlier avoided the follow-on, taking just 25 minutes to score the 34 runs needed, eventually being bowled out for 368, in reply to Australia's 527-7 declared.

David Warner was promoted to the top of the order at the expense of Shane Watson, and he scored 41 off 57 balls before being taken at deep square leg by Joe Root off Tim Bresnan.

Earlier Chris Rodgers - who had started brightly - went for 12 off Stuart Broad, with wicketkeeper Matt Prior taking a brilliant catch.

Graeme Swann dealt with Usman Khawaja, bowling the Australian round his legs for 24, then Kevin Pietersen ended Watson's innings on 18 following a well-taken catch at third man.

A mix-up between Steve Smith and captain Clarke saw the former run-out for 19, then Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc both offered up easy catches as they looked to quickly put some more runs on the board.

A short shower at tea left the umpires getting twitchy, and it wasn't long before they called time on play two hours early. 

Now, Australia's chances of winning the urn down under are hanging by a thread, with them needing to take 10 England wickets to secure victory on the final day's play and take the series back to 2-1.





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