Pat Cummins claims Australia “feel really in the game” after a flurry of late wickets left England struggling on 200-5 – trailing by 297 runs – on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford (Australia 5/6, England 40/1, Draw 21/20 – Match Winner).
England resumed their first innings on 23-1 on Friday looking to chase down the Baggy Greens’ mammoth total of 497-8 declared.
Nightwatchman Craig Overton made it to five runs before being dismissed by Josh Hazlewood with the hosts on 25-2.
Captain Joe Root joined Rory Burns at the crease and the pair put on a stubborn partnership of 141 before their resistance was broken by Hazlewood when he had the latter caught by Steve Smith on 81.
From 166-3, England slumped to 196-5 as Root was bowled lbw by Hazlewood on 71, before the Aussie pace man impressively made it 4-48 when he smashed Jason Roy’s middle stump out of the ground when he was on 22.
With 98 runs still required to avoid the follow-on, Headingley hero Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow will resume on seven and two respectively on Saturday after bad light prematurely stopped play (Stokes 11/8, Bairstow 4/7- Innings 2 Next Man Market).
England will no doubt look to force the draw to go into the final Test at The Oval still in with a chance of reclaiming the Ashes.
However, Cummins claims Australia are feeling confident that they can now finish the job in Manchester and take a 2-1 lead in the series, which would ensure they retain the famous urn.
He said: “The ball started to zip around and I felt in the game. It was not to be for me. It makes me happy when Josh comes on and takes wickets at the other end straight away. He did say I owe you one for that.
“The one good thing with it being 15 degrees is you can keep on bowling.
“We are pretty happy being 300 ahead. It was a tough day of Test cricket. To get those three wickets late, we feel really in the game.”