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Marnus Labuschagne defies England amid rain drama in fourth Ashes Test

The Aussies are a huge chance of saving the fourth Test thanks to Marnus Labuschange's heroics with the bat.

Marnus Labuschagne, pictured here in the fourth Ashes Test.
Marnus Labuschagne scored a brilliant century before he was dismissed by Joe Root. Image: Getty

Marnus Labuschagne has given Australia a huge chance of saving the fourth Test and retaining the Ashes after scoring a brilliant 111 on the fourth day at Old Trafford. On a day marred by rain and a number of stoppages, England were forced to bowl spinners Moeen Ali and Joe Root for a large chunk because the umpires deemed it too dark to allow the pacemen to bowl.

Labuschagne and Mitch Marsh, starting the day at 4-113 and still 162 runs behind England, took full advantage as the former registered his 11th Test century and second overseas. He was eventually dismissed when he edged a ball from Root through to keeper Jonny Bairstow, but his 103-run partnership with Marsh helped the Aussies get to within 61 runs of making England bat again.

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Marsh was 31 not out off 107 balls when rain stopped play for the final time, while Cameron Green was unbeaten on three off 15 balls. The Aussies finished the day at 5-214 after just 30 overs were bowled, with plenty of hope they can bat out a fifth day that is set to be affected by rain once again.

Australia only need a draw to retain the Ashes urn, while England need to win this Test and the series finale at The Oval. "For us now it's about retaining the Ashes," Labuschagne said after stumps.

"This is what it comes down to. Whatever time we have left tomorrow, there's only one option which is bat out the day. The rain is going play its part. But I certainly think there'll be some sort of play tomorrow."

The century ended an unusually lean run for former World No.1 batter Labuschagne. It marked his first in 23 innings and first on England soil, after the Queenslander made several changes to his approach throughout this tour.

Marnus Labuschagne.
Marnus Labuschagne celebrates after scoring a century in the fourth Ashes Test. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

"How important that score is, is yet to be seen," Labuschagne said. "I thought it was an opportunity for us to put a little bit of pressure back on them.

"Obviously Joe getting me out there at the end is not not the ideal finish for us. We made a bit of a dent in the deficit and we're not too far away from getting past that 60-run lead."

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Labuschagne said he will take huge confidence into the fifth Test, where the series scoreline will either be 2-1 to Australia or 2-2. "I do feel like my series with my batting has built," he said. "From Edgbaston, where it was a bit of a rabble, then to Lord's, to Headingley, to today.

"It's trending in the right direction, but you've just got to make sure you keep sticking to the process. I felt like it was all sort of coming together. It was nice to at least get a bit of a bigger score today."

Covers on the pitch during the fourth day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
Rain marred the fourth day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images) (PA Images via Getty Images)

England assistant coach Marcus Trescothick warned Australia not to hope too hard for rain on day five. "It's a natural thing to say. When you're trying to save the game and there's an opportunity of rain, everyone's going to say the same things," the former Test opening batter said.

But he warned: "It can be a little bit dangerous. If you start looking for other ways than internally in your team to stop games happening, or to not lose a game, potentially it becomes a dangerous point. At the end of the day you have to go out and earn that victory whatever way it is."

Media personality Piers Morgan was among the many to decry the situation with the weather, declaring it would be the "greatest travesty" if Australia escapes Manchester with a draw.

with AAP

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