Stokes takes Perth fight into final day


England were on 251 for five at stumps on day four of the third Ashes Test in Perth, still 253 runs behind and needing to resist for another full day on an increasingly unpredictable pitch.

England were on 251 for five at stumps on day four of the third Ashes Test in Perth, still 253 runs behind and needing to resist for another full day on an increasingly unpredictable pitch.

The Aussies smashed England's bowler to all corners in the morning at the WACA, hitting 134 runs in 17 overs, and Shane Watson making an ODI-style century. James Anderson conceded the most runs in a Test over (28) to prompt the declaration.

Australia declared their second innings on 369 for six before lunch, leaving England with two days to bat to either save the match and the little urn, or chase an improbable 504 for victory. At stumps, Ben Stokes was on 72 not out.

Australia started the day with Watson on 29 and Smith on five, the score on 235 for three. Watson then smashed 50-odd runs in the next six overs, while Smith had nothing to do but stand and watch, reaching 15 in the end.

Smith departed to Ben Stokes with the score on 301, caught by substitute Jonny Bairstow. Watson paid that no mind though, bashing his way to a 106-ball century, which included 11 fours and five sixes.

Watson was given a lifeline as Tim Bresnan took a superb catch on the ropes, but his momentum took him over the boundary for a six. Other fielding mishaps included Ian Bell and James Anderson combining for a dropped catch.

As it was Watson's dismissal came from a mistake too. Bell, again, dropped the high shot off Watson's top edge. Bell turned away in disgust, but bowler Bresnan was alert, and ran Watson out, as he had assumed he'd be caught and didn't really run.

This left George Bailey to smash 39 runs off 30 balls and take the target over 500, at which point Clarke called them back to the hut. Bailey his 28 runs off that final over off Anderson, making him the most expensive bowler in a Test over, ever.

England's chase got off to the worst possible start as Alastair Cook was bowled by Ryan Harris first ball. He thus became the first person to fall for a golden duck in his 100th Test, adding insult to serious injury.

Michael Carberry and Joe Root then reached lunch on 24 for one, before the afternoon session saw just 71 runs added for the loss of both those players. Carberry departed for 31, trapped LBW by Watson.

Root was dogged in his defence for most of the session, falling just before the tea break. He made 19 off 88 deliveries, before edging Mitchell Johnson to BRad Haddin, who took a superb diving catch.

Root, like he did in the first innings, immediately reviewed, saying he hadn't hit it, but this time he was incorrect. He hit the ground but also nicked the ball, which he clearly hadn't felt, and England lost a review.

Kevin Pietersen and Bell then saw out the session, with the former looking far more comfortable compared to the first innings. He was on 24 at the break, while Bell was on a scratchy six.

Pietersen picked up the pace in the evening, quickly reaching 45 as he played risky shots and looked far more like himself than he had all series. But it was one big hit too many, as Nathan Lyon's floated delivery found the safe hands of Harris in the deep.

Bell and Stoked then put on a partnership of 99 over the next 20-odd overs, with Bell going at a good clip and Stokes too, as they looked to avoid being bogged down late in the day. Bell eventually departed for 60, top edging Siddle to Haddin.

At the close, Stokes was on 72 off 96 balls, including 12 fours, while Matt Prior was on seven. The cracks in the pitch could fit a whole hand at that stage, and the bounce was increasingly erratic, ensuring a tough final day for the visitors.