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Australia inch towards Ashes triumph as England lose three wickets

The home side lead the five-Test series 2-0 and a win in the last-ever Ashes Test to be played on the WACA Ground would see them regain the urn

AFP | PTI  |  Perth 

Ashes 2017
Australian players celebrate Josh Hazlewood's, center, dismissal of England's Alastair Cook during the fourth day of their Ashes cricket test match in Perth, Australia Photo AP/PTI

Australia had one hand on the Ashes at tea on the fourth day of the third Test against England in Perth today.

Trailing by 259 runs on the first innings after Australia declared at 662 for nine, England were 71 for three when an early tea was called due to rain, with James Vince on 36 and Dawid Malan on four, still trailing by 188 runs.

The home side lead the five-Test series 2-0 and a win in the last-ever Ashes Test to be played on the WACA Ground would see them regain the urn.

England's best hopes of staying alive in the five-match series would appear to rest with the weather, and there was a loud cheer from England fans when the forecast rain arrived just minutes before tea.

The tourists' second innings got off to a dismal start when opener Mark Stoneman was caught behind from the bowling of Josh Hazlewood for just four.

Alastair Cook's woes continued when Hazlewood snared a brilliant return catch to remove him for 14, leaving the former skipper with just 83 runs at 13.83 for the series.

Captain Joe Root was then the third man out, to spinner Nathan Lyon's first ball of the innings, caught at first slip by his Australian counterpart Steve Smith for 14 off the glove of wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Earlier Australia scored their highest Ashes total at home and fifth-highest against England.

Although Smith added just 10 to his overnight total before being dismissed for 239, his innings was the cornerstone of the massive total.

Smith was adjudged leg before wicket on review after James Anderson's confident shout was turned down by on-field umpire Chris Gaffaney.

The review ended a chanceless 399-ball epic innings which included 30 fours and one six.

The other overnight batsman, Mitchell Marsh, had departed a few minutes earlier -- failing to add to his 181 when he was trapped leg before wicket by Anderson to end a 301-run partnership with Smith.

Australia then had Mitchell Starc run out for one as they lost three wickets for 12 runs.

They were also lucky not to lose Paine for 11 when he was given out looking plumb lbw to Anderson, only for a review to show the ball would have gone over the leg stump.

England have reportedly been unhappy with the decision review process in the match. According to one British newspaper they have lodged an official complaint after Mark Stoneman was given out contentiously by the third umpire, caught off his glove, in their first innings.

Anderson finished with four wickets, all claimed on day four, while Broad recorded career-worst figures of 0-142.

First Published: Sun, December 17 2017. 19:33 IST