Australia were frustrated in pursuit of victory in the fifth Test after a turgid England batting performance sent the match heading towards a draw at The Oval.

England scored 215 runs in 98.3 overs on day three to stand on the brink of the follow-on target of 292 but still a gargantuan 245 runs short of Australia's first innings total of 492.

Joe Root made 68 from 184 balls and Kevin Pietersen 50 from 133 as Australia toiled on a surface which continues to offer little for the bowlers.

The tourists had reason to believe they could make serious inroads early in the day after Alastair Cook (25) edged Ryan Harris behind.

But it took 22 overs for Australia to take a second English wicket as Root swept Nathan Lyon straight to Shane Watson at leg slip.

Jonathan Trott produced a typically resilient innings, with just two boundaries coming in his crafty 40 before being trapped lbw by Mitchell Starc with the opening delivery with the new ball.

Starc was in amongst them again after tea when Pietersen, who had earlier made his way to his second slowest career half-century, edged to Watson at slip.

Chris Woakes on debut lived up to his impressive average and status as an all-rounder with a cameo of 15 off 49 balls, including a boundary in his first delivery while Ian Ball, the highest run-scorer of the series, finishing unbeaten on 29 and the pair will prove crucial in furthur holding up their opponents on day four.

With weather predicted on day four, Australia's hope of salavaging a result in the match rest on bowling England out before the follow-on target is reached.