For 17 ounces after the opening session was washed out by rain, England’s seamers acted with discipline but were never able to break the Aussies’ resolve. Suddenly Joe Root began weaving a deft cocktail of off-breaks and index finger triggered out-curls, while Moeen Ali, still struggling with his grip and control, unleashed enough drifting floaters to keep the batsmen in suspense. Root then removed Marnus Labuschagne to put England ahead before the clouds opened again and spoiled the rest of the day. At the moment, after 135 minutes and 30 overs of the fourth day’s play, Australia are 61 runs behind, with five wickets intact and Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green still in the game. The game, the series, the Aussies’ reputations are at stake as the fourth Ashes Test moves into the final day and the rain forecast remains unfavorable.

Marnus Labuschagne, who scored 111, and Mitch Marsh refused to give up in the afternoon, and due to the context of the game and the series it was a tense tantalizing encounter, although there were no real demons at play.Labuschagne and Marsh were extremely careful to play on the front foot, and the morning’s rolling conditions may have prevented any low-bounce hits on the turf.

Quite early on, when Marsh went for an expansive pick-up shot that was out of reach for Moeen Ali standing at deep square leg, the former national team captainThere was nothing special about this place. Not that the seamstresses of the England national team were trying too hard. Mark Wood, who had his own problemsEjecting a high arm when he needed a bounce, the odd bounce of the ball off his arm, throwing out a twisting beam to shadow the leg break, skidding off the round hand.

Labuschagne, who had fallen haplessly in the first innings to Moeen’s adjustable off-break, turned on. He struck a couple of sixes off Root at the start before scoring a curler with forefingers and then, though cautious, was tight in defense. Nevertheless, one could sense some tightness, perhaps caution, as Root continued to apply pressure.

Seeing that the ball was a little shorter than it needed to be, Labuschagne turned around for a cut shot. Error. Edged and walked away, with a little help from the DRS taken by England.

Moeen was also starting to find his rhythm — not as good as it could be, but better than Friday, for sure. On the last ball before tea, he tried to catch a slip against Cameron Green, who is also playing poorly with the bat in this series, but there was no bat — just the pads of his fingers. Pretty soon the rain came and that was the end of it. Will the elements calm down and open the portal to play on the final day?

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