Marnus Labuschagne scored his 11th test century to frustrate England before falling to Joe Root as Australia reached 214-5 at tea before play was abandoned due to rain on the fourth day of the fourth Ashes test in Manchester on Saturday.
After the start of play was delayed due to wet weather, Australia resumed on 113-4, needing 162 runs to make England bat again, with number three Labuschagne on 44 and Mitch Marsh on one.
Sensing opportunity, England began aggressively as they looked to take quick wickets, with Mark Wood leading the attack after his vicious spell on Friday decimated most of Australia’s top order.
Labuschagne and Marsh did well to soak up the early pressure, stealing singles and finding the occasional boundary to keep the scoreboard ticking as dark clouds continued to gather over the Old Trafford stadium.
Umpires then ruled that it was too murky for pacer Wood to bowl, forcing England captain Ben Stokes to bring in spinner Moeen Ali and part-timer Root.
The change initially played into Australia’s hands, with Labuschagne hitting Root for two sixes and two fours to bring up his first century in England, but a rare lapse in concentration led to the batter nicking a delivery through to Jonny Bairstow just before tea.
Labuschagne departed on 111, his highest test score outside Australia.
The rain returned soon after the players left the field, and with the weather forecast for the rest of the day looking bleak play was abandoned at 1730 GMT.
Britain’s Met Office predicts showers throughout the day on Sunday as well.
England will pray for the rain to stay away long enough for them to ensure victory and take the five-match series into a decider at the Oval in London next week. Australia, who lead 2-1, will retain the Ashes if the fourth test ends in a draw.