England hit back with Warner, Marsh wickets on final day

Melbourne (AFP) –


England hit back with two key wickets as they chased victory in the fourth Ashes Test on the final day in Melbourne on Saturday.

After two painstaking hours of slow scoring, the tourists grabbed the wickets of David Warner and Shaun Marsh in the final half-hour to dramatically improve their chances of pulling off their first win in an already-decided series.

At lunch, Australia were 178 for four and leading by just 14 runs with skipper Steve Smith unbeaten on 50 after Marsh was out in the final over of the morning session.

Warner had looked set for his 22nd Test hundred and second century of the Test match before he attempted to slog the second ball of Joe Root's first over.

The ball, pitched into the foot marks, skewed into the air and James Vince took a comfortable catch in the covers to give Root the perfect gift on his 27th birthday.

Warner dropped his head realising he had botched a golden chance to claim his Test twin centuries for a fourth time in his career.

The normally adventurous opener had played with great circumspection to keep England at bay, 301 minutes and 227 balls in his slowest Test innings.

It also ended a 107-run stand with Smith, which helped Australia wipe out the innings deficit.

More drama came in the final over when Marsh edged Stuart Broad to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, who took a splendid catch for four.

It was painful going early on with Warner and Smith adding just 35 runs in the 75 minutes to drinks as the Australians dug in to save the Test on the final day.

But the momentum swung back to England with the double breakthrough nearing lunch.

Groundstaff rushed to cover the wicket when rain fell during the luncheon interval.