SYDNEY (AP) — Scott Boland claimed the prized wicket of England captain Joe Root, but the tourists dug in to frustrate Australia up to tea on the final day of the fourth test under gloomy skies at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Root and Ben Stokes combined for a 60-run partnership from 26 overs before Boland had the English skipper edging through to wicketkeeper Alex Carey for 24 to give Australia new hope it may be able to bowl England out in the final session and claim a 4-0 Ashes series lead.

At tea, England was 174-4, with Stokes unbeaten on 46 and Jonny Bairstow 10 not out as the tourists battled hard to preserve their wicket and achieve England’s best result in a dismal tour so far.

Boland has 2-19 to lead Australia’s attack, with Nathan Lyon and Cameron Green the other wicket takers Sunday.

Stokes, no stranger in proving to be an immovable object for Australia after his heroics in the 2019 Ashes series in England, did not appear to let the pain of his left side injury curtail his attacking shots as he crushed seven boundaries and a six in the session to close in on another half-century this match after his 66 in the first innings.

Rain is also threatening Australia’s push for victory with a small interruption before the start of the session and increasing cloud cover evident over the SCG through the afternoon.

Needing to bat out the day to draw the test after being set an improbable 388 to win, the tourists lost a very defensive-minded Hameed (9) and Malan (4) in the morning session, but Zak Crawley decided that attack was the best form of defense as he unleashed eight boundaries on his way to a 69-ball half-century.

Hameed was dropped by Carey off Pat Cummins, but only survived a few overs more as he again edged through to Carey, who made the catch, to give Scott Boland yet another wicket in his bright start in test cricket.

Lyon (1-19) was introduced into the attack and in his third over found a way through Malan’s defenses to have England at 74-2 after the first hour of play.

Crawley’s enterprising innings was halted at 77 after 13 boundaries when Green (1-33) captured the 23-year-old opener leg before wicket.

On Saturday, Usman Khawaja’s stunning return to test cricket continued with a blistering century.

Khawaja, who scored 137 in the first innings in his first appearance since the 2019 Ashes series in England, scored an unbeaten 101 off 138 balls as part of a 179-run partnership with Green, who scored 74.


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