Australia are edging towards a win in the third Test of the Ashes at Perth as England are on the verge of their hat-trick loss against the men from Down Under. The hosts are five wickets away from another win as the English side are 251/5 at the end of the fourth day's play.
Shane Watson and Steve Smith walked into the crease on the fourth day of the Perth Test after Australia ended day the third day's play at 235/3. Watson went on to score a century before being run out by Tim Bresnan for 103.
The all-rounder was well supported by George Bailey, who remained unbeaten at 39 as Michael Clarke declared, with Australia reaching a second innings total of 369 for the loss of six wickets. England had a huge task of avoiding a series defeat as they needed 504 to win the third Test.
Alastair Cook had bounced back with a performance in the first innings as the England skipper was the highest scorer for his side with 72 runs. However, this time the left-handed opening batsman failed to give the visitors a good start.
Ryan Harris sent Cook back to the pavilion before the England skipper could even open his account. Michael Carberry and Joe Root tried to put on a partnership between them, but the duo could manage only 65 runs before the opener was dismissed for 31 by Watson.
Root followed him later as he became Mitchell Johnson's first victim in the second innings. The two experienced batsmen for England, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell had a huge responsibility to steady England's innings to avoid yet another defeat.
However, Pietersen fell for Nathan Lyon after the right-handed batsman gave a simple catch to Harris long-on. He made 45 as England were reduced to 126 for the loss of four wickets. Ben Stokes joined Bell in the middle and the two managed to hold their ground and were successful in keeping the scoreboard ticking.
Stokes and Bell put on a 99-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the latter fell for Peter Siddle at 60. Stokes and Matt Prior are at the crease and the England's hope of avoiding a series defeat now rests on the two.
Stokes (72) and Prior (7) need to hold their ground as England need to win in the final day while Australia are five wickets away from an Ashes series victory at home.