MX23RW : Thursday, July 19 23:33:52

Rain dents England's hopes of winning fourth Ashes Test

England face a battle to force victory in the fourth Ashes Test after rain wiped out half of the fourth day in Melbourne with Australia on 103-2.

England have been dealt a blow in their efforts to win the fourth Test after rain fell for the closing hours of the penultimate day in Melbourne.

The dismissal of James Anderson off the first ball of the day saw England bowled out for 491, and left Alastair Cook to become the first England batsman to carry his bat in 20 years.

However, focus soon turned to defending a lead of 164, and the first breakthrough came with Australia on 51 as Chris Woakes bowled Cameron Bancroft for 27.

That soon became 65-2 as James Anderson picked up the wicket of Usman Khawaja for just 11, but David Warner and Steven Smith combined to take Australia into three figures.

England still held the advantage but when rain came midway through the afternoon, the players did not return to the field with Warner and Smith unbeaten on 40 and 25 respectively as Australia remained on 103-2.

Joe Root's side still lead by 61 runs, but on a generally unresponsive pitch, the tourists may find it difficult to take eight Australia wickets and hit the required runs for victory over the final three sessions.

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Alastair Cook in action for England in August 2016
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