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Rain delays start of day three at Old Trafford
England are 23 for one in their reply to Australia’s 497 for eight.
Rain delayed the start of the third day of the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia at Old Trafford.
Covers were kept on the pitch due to persistent drizzle and, with the sky overcast, hopes of much morning play seemed slim.
England had been due to resume on 23 for one in reply to Australia’s Steve Smith-inspired 497 for eight declared in the first innings. Rory Burns was unbeaten on 15 with nightwatchman Craig Overton three not out.
The irrepressible Smith hit 211 – his third century of the series – as Australia took firm control on day two.
The delay on Friday may actually have suited England, with their best chance of keeping their Ashes hopes alive seeming to involve leaving Manchester with a draw.
With the series level at 1-1, that would set up next week’s final Test at the Oval as a decider.
Victory for Australia at Old Trafford would see them retain the Ashes regardless of the result in the fifth Test.
With the forecast brighter for Friday afternoon, and far more positive over the weekend, England will face a fight to save the match when they do get back onto the field.
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow is confident the hosts will be able to come through, drawing on the spirit of their brilliant victory in the third Test at Headingley.
“If we can go out and apply ourselves, set our stall out to bat for a long period of time like we did at Headingley, there’s no reason why not,” Bairstow said.
“There’s three innings still to go in the game. There’s still three days of cricket left.
“Let’s look at the next session and see where we get to. I don’t think looking too far ahead is the way.
“We’ve seen two contrasting days with the weather and we’ll see how the pitch changes.”