PERTH, Australia Ė England were 132 runs for the loss of four wickets on Sunday in their second innings at the end of a rain-interrupted fourth dayís play in the third Ashes test at the WACA stadium in Australiaís Perth, possibly on the verge of defeat as they trail the hosts by 127 runs.
Englandís centurions from the first innings, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow, were at the crease at stumps and face the herculean task of avoiding a third successive loss in as many matches in their current tour Down Under.
The dayís play resumed with Australia on 549/4; an inspired Jimmy Anderson trapped Mitchell Marsh LBW in the first over of the day and then captain Steve Smith a few overs later, and with the run out of Mitchell Starc, the Australians had lost three wickets in a span of five overs.
At lunch Australia were 643/7, and they declared their innings early in the second session at 662/9, having accumulated a massive lead of 259 runs.
In the second innings, the Australian pace battery got the ball to land in the ever-widening cracks, as Josh Hazlewood sent the openers Mark Stoneman and Alastair Cook back to the pavilion in his first spell.
Off spinner Nathan Lyon removed English captain Joe Root in his first over, before it started raining in Perth, prompting the umpires to call for an early tea break with the score reading 71/3.
In the dayís last session, a composed James Vince, who played some fluent off drives to reach his second fifty in the series, was removed on 55 by a menacing delivery from Starc that broke his off stump, making Englandís hopes appear as gloomy as the weather around the stadium.
Malan and Bairstow managed to fend off the Australians until it began to pour once again, and play was called off for the day with the score reading 132/4.
Englandís best hopes on keeping the series alive rest on the rain gods washing off most of the last dayís play, unless their batsmen can conjure up some magic and take the fight back to the Aussies, who lead the five-match Ashes test series 2-0.