England’s bowlers reduced Australia to 174-6 at stumps on day four of the first test at Trent Bridge, after a pulsating Saturday evening session which left the tourists needing another 137 for victory.
“I’m still confident we’ve got a chance of winning,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said.
England claimed four wickets after tea, including opener Chris Rogers, who was Australia’s top scorer with a 121-ball 52 that included eight fours.
Stuart Broad took 2-34 and Graeme Swann 2-64, leaving Brad Haddin and Ashton Agar not out on 11 and 1 respectively.
“Ashton’s first innings showed he’s a player of talent, that’s for sure, and with the experience of Brad Haddin and the players we’ve got to come in, I’m sure we can give it a shot,” Clarke said.
Agar was promoted up the order from No. 11 after his first innings 98 and, while he was happy to bat through to stumps with Haddin, Australia is the underdog going into the final day.
To win, Australia will have to break the record at Nottingham for a successful fourth innings test run chase, set by England who scored 284 against New Zealand in 2004.
Earlier, England posted 375 after Ian Bell hit 109 and Broad 65.
Bell rated his innings, which lasted 267 balls and included 15 fours, as his best against Australia.
“I think it’s definitely my best Ashes innings,” Bell said of his 18th test century. “And it’s nice to put an innings together when the team needed it most.”
On another dramatically fluctuating day England resumed on 326-6 with Bell on 95 not out.
Broad hit 65 from 148 balls with seven fours before James Pattinson had him caught behind, ending a stand of 138 that tilted the match England’s way.
Bell was also caught behind off Mitchell Starc, who had Australia’s best bowling figures with 3-81. Peter Siddle took 3-82.
The tone was set from the first ball, when Starc bowled an astonishing head-high beamer that flew through the vacant second slip area for five no balls.
Broad, who controversially stood his ground and was given not out on Friday despite clearly being caught by Clarke off Agar, reached his 10th test 50 in the second over of the day by slicing Pattinson at catchable height through first and second slip.
In the next over, Bell drove Starc through point to bring up his century and the partnership was broken only in the 140th over, when Haddin took a tumbling catch to remove Broad.
This time Broad walked and he was given a standing ovation by the majority of the crowd and his teammates on the dressing room balcony.
Successive boundaries for Bell from Siddle took the England lead past 300 before he finally fell to Starc in the 145th.
Graeme Swann was out for 9, edging Siddle to Clarke, and the innings concluded when James Anderson was caught by Phillip Hughes off Siddle without scoring.
The Australian openers initially made batting look easy but after an hour of the afternoon session Watson was lbw to Broad after an unsuccessful referral.
Rogers successfully referred a catch behind off Swann and reached his 50 with a single from Root in the final over before tea.
The momentum seemed to be shifting back to Australia at 111-1, but with the final ball of the session Root had Cowan caught
Rogers perished in the 23rd over when he got a leading edge to Anderson and was caught by Bell.
Clarke and Steve Smith were building a useful partnership but the momentum shifted again when Clarke was given out caught behind to Broad after an umpire’s review.
“I obviously thought I’d hit it because I referred it,” Clarke said. “When we looked at the video stream we were pretty pumped because we couldn’t see anything but I was given out and when I got back to the dressing room I saw a little spot (on the hot spot replay).
“It’s the same for both teams and we’re certainly not going to use DRS (the Decision Review System) as an excuse.”
Smith was lbw to the next ball from Swann for 17 and England then demonstrated how the referral system should be used when they overturned a not out decision against Phillip Hughes, who was lbw to Swann.