Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood took four wickets to leave England on the brink of an Ashes setback as they were reeling at 200/5, still trailing by 297 runs at stumps on Day 3 of the fourth Test here on Friday.
England still need 98 runs to avoid follow on after Australia rode Steve Smith’s magical 211 to put up 497/8 on the board in the first innings.
Hazlewood returned figures of 4/48 as he broke the pivotal 141-run stand for the third wicket between Rory Burns and Joe Root to get Australia back on top of the game after tea.
The first session of the second day was washed out and at tea Burns and Root helped England reach 125/2 to keep themselves alive.
But Burns (81 off 185 balls; 9×4) was caught at second slip by Smith to start the slide as Root (71 off 168 balls; 10×4) also departed trapped in front by Hazlewood.
Jason Roy looked good for his 22 but Hazlewood castled him with a beauty to leave last match’s hero Ben Stokes (7 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (2 not out) at the crease.
England resumed at 23/1 with Burns batting on 15. By tea, Burns got to his fourth Test fifty and second in the series and was batting on 62 from 137 balls.
Skipper Root at the other end neared his second consecutive half-century as he was batting on 47 from 108 balls. The pair shared a 100-run unbroken stand. For the Aussies, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins got a wicket each.
After Joe Denly (4) was dismissed on Day 2, nightwatchman Craig Overton also got out for just 5 early on Day 3, Hazlewood having him caught by Smith at second slip. From then on, Burns and Root steadied the ship. On the second day, it was all about Smith’s masterclass batting display.
Smith brought up his third double hundred after missing the third Ashes Test due to concussion. Smith re-wrote the history books with his 26th Test century and third Ashes double hundred as he batted for 513 minutes, and hit 24 fours and two sixes.
Brief scores: Australia 1st innings: 497/8 declared (Steve Smith 211, Marnus Labuschagne 67; Tim Paine 58, Mitchell Starc 54 not out; Stuart Broad 3/97); England 200/5 (Rory Burns 81, Joe Root 71; Josh Hazlewood 4/48) At Stumps