Australia’s run chase held up by rain

LONDON, (Reuters): The fourth day’s play in the final Ashes test at The Oval on Sunday was abandoned due to rain after Australian openers David Warner (58) and Usman Khawaja (69) shared a partnership of 135 as they chase a target of 384 to beat England.

The pair withstood a barrage of hostile bowling as they steamed past 100 on their way to the highest opening partnership in the Ashes in England since 2009.

James Anderson floored Warner with an unintended beamer when Australia were just short of a hundred, the batter managing to fend off the shoulder-height ball with his bat handle.

Fast bowler Mark Wood hit Khawaja on the helmet with a bouncer, leading to a lengthy concussion check before the rain set in.

England’s Stuart Broad, who on Saturday announced his retirement from cricket after this match, and Anderson, celebrating his 41st birthday, had opened the bowling after ending England’s second innings together in the morning, with Broad smashing the final ball of his batting career for six.

Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Joe Root and Wood all joined the attack for spells under the floodlights on an overcast day, but were unable to break through the openers’ defences.

England had batted with great intent on Saturday, Zak Crawley (73), Root (91) and Bairstow (78) helping to build a big lead as Australia’s bowlers struggled to restrict the flow of runs.

No team has chased down more than 263 at The Oval – a record set by England against Australia back in 1902 – although 10 sides have scored more than 300 on their way to draws at the south London ground.

Australia retained the Ashes after the fourth test was washed out, leaving them 2-1 up in the series. They are hoping to win the series outright, however, to become the first Australian side to do so in England since 2001.

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