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Australia close in on Clarke farewell win

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Australia are four wickets away from wrapping up the series on a high by winning the fifth and final Test of the Ashes at the Oval.

England prolonged the inevitable today by surviving 79 overs in their second innings, largely thanks to the resoluteness of Skipper Alastair Cook, who batted through the bulk of those overs to chip in with 85 to force the match into a fourth day.

Day 3 began with England deep in the mire at 107-8, and the lower order did well to take the score along to 149 before Mitchell Johnson returned to wrap up the innings. Moeen Ali top scored with 30 and shared in a 57 run partnership for the 9th wicket with Mark Wood, who was the second highest scorer in the innings with 24.

Australia then enforced the follow-on, and then set about the business of getting England out for a second time. Adam Lyth continued his poor run of form in the Ashes, falling for 10 to Peter Siddle. The veteran Australian pacer bowled 10 maidens in 16 overs and Australia could have certainly done with his accuracy over the course of the summer.

Australia were made to work harder for their wickets this time around, and once again they were shared around by the bowlers. Nathan Lyon picked up a couple, getting rid of Jonny Bairstow (26) and Ben Stokes (0), after Mitch Marsh and Johnson had removed Bell and Root respectively for 13 and 11.

The England batsmen will be disappointed that so many of them got starts, but failed to go on and make the most of them. With four wickets in hand and the Australia lead down to just 129 runs, England will still harbour hopes of making their visitors bat again, and should their tail wag, we could well see an exciting conclusion to the Ashes tomorrow.

Mini Scorecard:

Australia 1st Innings 481 all out (125.1 overs, 3.84rpo)

D Warner 85 (131) S Finn 3-90 (29.1)

S Smith 143 (252) M Ali 3-102 (18)

England 1st Innings 149 all out (48.4 overs, 3.06rpo)

M Ali 30 (61) M Marsh 3-30 (9)

M Wood 24 (41) M Johnson 3-21 (8.4)

England 2nd Innings 203-6 (79 overs, 2.56rpo)

A Cook 85 (234) N Lyon 2-52 (25)

J Buttler 33* (80) S Smith 1-7 (1)