All eyes are on the Manchester skies on Sunday as Australia looks to escape the fourth Test with a miraculous draw that would give the tourists the Ashes urn.
England faces a nervous day five at Old Trafford after a Marnus Labuschagne century, and the loss of about two sessions of play on day four, set up a thrilling finish.
Should play be possible, Australia resumes its second innings at 5-214, trailing England by 61 runs, with Mitch Marsh (31*) and Cameron Green (3*) at the crease.
The hosts need nothing short of a win to keep the Ashes alive heading to next week’s finale at the Oval — but are now fighting two foes with both Australia and the weather standing in the way.
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As of 11am (AEST), the Met Office forecast was grim.
“Wet morning with heavy and persistent rain. Rain continuing throughout much of the day, turning somewhat lighter and more showery during the afternoon with some brief drier spells,” the Met Office forecast for Sunday.
There is a 90 per cent chance of falls in Manchester up until 11am local time, when it reduces slightly to 60 per cent.
However, there is still more than a 50 per cent chance of rain throughout the entire day in Manchester, according to the Met website.
The gloomy prediction has concerned England fast bowler Stuart Broad, who was quick to downplay Australia’s resistance on day four by saying it would be “unjust” for the weather to stop victory for the hosts.
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Stokes left frustrated by umpire’s call | 00:36
“Sitting in the changing room watching the rain fall yesterday, there was definitely a feeling it would be unjust if weather had a decisive say,” Broad wrote for the Daily Mail.
There’s little doubt England has been the strongest team at Old Trafford, but Labuschagne’s heroics on day four, combined with a stubborn Mitch Marsh, should not be discredited.
Both batted to the match situation to ensure Australia only lost one more wicket on Saturday, leaving the door open to a famous draw.
As for the prospect of an Australian win — an English journalist put the question to Labuschagne at stumps, prompting a hilarious exchange.
Labuschagne was visibly shocked at the suggestion that Australia would try to win the match, asking the journalist for clarification.
“Like, as in get a lead and then … what do you mean?” Labuschagne said.
Upon clarification, Labuschagne laughed and responded: “No. No chance (we go for the win). Zero.”
Marnus and rain keep England at bay | 03:18
England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Jonny Bairstow (wk), Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Australia XI: Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
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