Australia will take a lead of 196 with six wickets in hand into the final day of the Kia Women's Test after seeing their progress checked by England's bowlers and inclement weather on Thursday.
A double deluge of rain coupled with thunder and lightning restricted the action to 38 overs on day three in Canterbury, during which time Australia reached 90 for four with Test debutant Jess Jonassen, who made 99 in the first innings, 29 not out off 40 balls.
That means England already need a world record run-chase in women's cricket if they are to claim the win, but the hosts battled hard to restrict Australia's progress on Thursday.
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Beginning their second innings on a gloomy third morning but with a 106-run first-innings lead already in the bank, Australia were soon in trouble against the pace of Katherine Brunt.
Bowling for the first time in the match down the Nackington Road slope, Brunt struck with her fifth ball to send back Elyse Villani for a duck with an off-cutter that slid past the right-hander's back-foot defensive push to poleaxe off stump.
In her next over, Brunt, whose opening deliveries were clocked at 75 mph, nipped one back inside the defensive push of Meg Lanning to dismiss the Australian captain for a third-ball duck and make it two for two after three overs.
England's early momentum was halted by thunderstorms and lightning strikes after 11.31am, resulting in a flooded outfield and a delay of just over four hours as the groundstaff at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence worked minor miracles to get the field fit for a 3.45pm re-start.
However, England were soon amongst the wickets again following the resumption as Anya Shrubsole struck with the third delivery, having Ellyse Perry caught behind off an under edge for 13 to make it 19 for three.
Then, some 32 runs later, England were celebrating again after opener Nicole Bolton, who had faced 81 balls for 25, drove loosely at one from Kate Cross that popped up out of the bowlers' rough to loop a simple catch to Brunt at extra cover.
The last meaningful action of the day involved Alex Blackwell who, with her score on nine and the total at 68 for four, was seemingly caught at slip by Heather Knight off the bowling of Brunt.
Though given out, Blackwell stalled three-quarters of the way back to the boundary ropes to instigate the first reviewed catch in the history of women's Test cricket. After lengthy consideration Martin Saggers, the ICC third official for the Test, gave Blackwell (15 not out) the benefit of the doubt and overturned the decision.
The rain returned soon after, however, forcing the abandonment shortly after 6pm but England already know they will face a record chase if they are to win this game.
Brunt, England's leading performer with bat and ball during the opening three days, said: "Every bowler will tell you it's all about rhythm and timing, so it was frustrating to come off for rain this morning when we did.
"We made errors with the bat on day two and a couple of decisions maybe didn't go our way.
"We put ourselves on the back foot after two days, so we were determined to come out here and turn things around. That's exactly what we've done and we'll come out with a lot more batting positivity tomorrow."
She added: "I felt really good about things until the rain delay and I felt the luck just seemed to go their way after that, but four-day cricket is like that - swings and roundabouts."
Bolton, the Australia opening bat who had earlier occupied the crease for 100 minutes, said afterwards: "I would have liked to have contributed more with the bat after all, as an opener, that's your role.
"Unfortunately it hasn't been my Test, but we've definitely got the calibre of players in our order to post a really good total, come out tomorrow, play with intent and put England under pressure."