Australia cricket
Australia took a step towards levelling the series.Getty Images

Australia took a giant stride towards levelling the Ashes series against England after building a handsome 362-run lead on day three of the second Test at Lord's.

Chris Rogers (44) and David Warner (63) extended the tourists' lead after England had earlier been bowled out for 312, closing on 108 for no loss.

Alastair Cook (96) and Ben Stokes (87) provided stern resistance but were both dismissed by Mitchell Marsh as the hosts gave away a first innings deficit of 254 runs, with Australia retaining the upper-hand.

Mitchell Johnson (3-53) and Josh Hazlewood (3-68) finished with three wickets apiece to stifle England's progress with the bat, before cruising to a lead which will currently require the hosts to chase the highest fourth score to win a Test at the home of cricket.

However, the more likely scenario is England will need to produce an almighty rearguard and bat for the remaining two days to keep their lead in the five-match series, but with Michael Clarke's eyeing a hefty lead the second Test looks increasingly likely to go the way of Australia.

Ben Stokes
Stokes played a typically expansive innings as his impressive record at Lord's continued.Getty Images

Though England again faced rebuilding having lost four early wickets, 281 runs separated them from avoiding the follow-on and much rested on the unbeaten overnight pair of Cook and Stokes, who had shown late night resistance after the flurry of early blows.

While Cook continued his typically gritty innings, fending off Johnson and Hazlewood with relative ease, Stokes remained on the offensive with early boundaries either side of the wicket.

Stokes had made 92 against New Zealand after England been reduced to 30 for 4 and was on course to make a similarly influential contribution and he went to his half century off 67 balls.

Captain Cook soon followed him before lunch as, after surviving amid the chaos around him, he flourished in the morning as he claimed his 43rd fifty in Tests.

With the ball softening up, Australia skipper Clarke was scrambling around for ideas of how to break a partnership which had by this stage soared over 100, with men hugging the boundary as he attempt to create scoreboard pressure.

Alastair Cook
Cook fell four runs short of a 28th test century to agonising circumstances.Getty Images

Marsh's first over of the day almost yielded that scalp as Stokes' edge went agonisingly between second and fourth slip, but the Ashes debutant's next over produced the breakthrough as the Durham all-rounder chopped onto his own stumps on the brink of lunch for 87.

The third over after lunch almost brought a sixth wicket as Jos Buttler edged Johnson behind to the sprawling Peter Nevill who grasped the ball brilliantly, but a take which was proven to be illegitimate after replays suggested the ball was grounded in the process of taking the catch.

Australia were unequivocally in command but Steven Smith missed the chance to dismiss the England captain on 63 as he put down an opportunity at leg gully after Cook got hold of a Johnson short ball.

The wicket came eventually though when Buttler (13) walked after feathering behind off Nathan Lyon which went straight on and was snaffled by Nevill.

With the new ball imminent, England took the opportunity to pile on the runs and Moeen Ali smashed Lyon for a straight six before, having survived an lbw review, he cut the spinner as his partnership with Cook went beyond 50.

David Warner
Warner eased to another half century as Australia piled on the pain.Getty Images

Cook had played the perfect rearguard but with two overs to go until the dreaded new ball he attempted to push towards a century, but inadvertently dragged on off Marsh.

Ali (39) continued to be aggressive in the face of the new ball either side of tea but in the third over after the break Hazlewood trapped him lbw, and the right-arm seamer took his third wicket of the innings as he clipped the top of Mark Wood's (4) off-stump.

Stuart Broad's 21-run cameo was then brought to an abrupt halt as he edged to substitute Shaun Marsh in the slips to give Johnson his third wicket and leave England 254 runs behind Australia after being bowled out for just 312.

Having continued the recent trend of not enforcing the follow-on, Australia set about building an unassailable lead in spritely fashion in order to give themselves time to bowl England out for a second time.

Openers Rogers and Warner eased to a century stand for the first wicket as they combined caution with selective attack to propel the lead beyond 350 to leave a dispirited England - after another toiling day - firmly on the back-foot.