Third Ashes Test: day four
Michael Clarke hits out. Photo: Getty Images
An Ashes classic is in the making at Old Trafford, with Australia trying to put the building blocks in place to keep the series alive with a famous third Test victory.
But rain has halted their progress by forcing an early tea break, and although the covers were quickly removed, inclement weather is predicted for day five, and time is very much at the essence for the tourists.
At tea on day four, Australia are 5-137, with a lead of 296.
The record successful fourth innings chase at Old Trafford was 294 by England against New Zealand in 2008.
Wickets fell a little too rapidly for Australia's liking, with loose shots and a shocking run-out causing problems, but they did score at a healthy 4.5 runs an over.
Weather permitting, England will be batting again by the end of the day, but it's unknown how many captain Michael Clarke will want on the board before he declares.
England have been on a go-slow since lunch, as they look to soak up time, with just 22.3 overs bowled in the middle session.
Australia will be desperate for quick wickets to really put England on the back foot heading into the final day.
Encouragingly, the pitch seems to be offering some uneven bounce.
The tourists took a 159-run first innings lead after England were finally bowled out for 368 in the morning session.
At tea, Clarke was 14 not out and Brad Haddin yet to face a ball.
Australia promoted David Warner to open the innings, and the explosive hitter did his job, smashing 41 from 57 before he sent a hook flying at Joe Root for the second time in two months.
This time it was out in the middle, not in a Birmingham nightclub, and Root took a good low catch in the deep, before celebrating with a passionate fist-pump to the crowd.
It was the second most ironic event of the day, after England villain Stuart Broad had earlier walked after nicking behind.
Usman Khawaja batted well for 24, before he fell to Graeme Swann for the fourth time in four innings, bowled around his legs.
Shane Watson was surprisingly demoted to No.4 and after making 18 he attempted to guide Tim Bresnan for six over third man, but Kevin Pietersen was under it to take a sitter.
Steve Smith smashed two sixes in a run-a-ball 19, before Clarke ran him out in disastrous circumstances.
Clarke ran the first run far too casually, and turned Smith back for the second when the right-hander had nearly completed two.
Smith dived to make his ground but was well short - with the fielding done by substitute fielder Tom Craddock.
It's not the first time in Ashes history Australian batsmen have been run-out by subs - with England dubiously giving their fast bowlers regular rests off the field.
Earlier Peter Siddle took two wickets and Nathan Lyon one to clean up the England tail.