Cricket: England fans pray for rain

Ryan Harris of Australia celebrates after he dismissed Ben Stokes. Photo / Getty Images
Ryan Harris of Australia celebrates after he dismissed Ben Stokes. Photo / Getty Images

Mitchell Johnson brushed shoulders with England's Ben Stokes and had a verbal clash with Stuart Broad as the players left the field on a fiery day four of the second Ashes Test.

England managed to avoid defeat on Sunday but perhaps only rain can save them on day five with just four wickets in hand.

Chasing 531 to win, England will resume on Monday at Adelaide Oval on 6-247 as Australia push for a two-nil advantage in the five-match series.

Matt Prior is 31 not out with Broad on 22 after a tense and physical day's play in which England broke through the 200 barrier for the first time in the series.

No.3 Joe Root top-scored with 87 while Peter Siddle was the pick of Australia's bowlers with 2-21 off 13 overs.

Australia declared on their overnight score of 3-132.

The tourists at last showed some fight, including Prior and Australian skipper Michael Clarke exchanging words late in the day's play.

Siddle, who was the pick of Australia's bowlers with 2-21 off 13 overs, suggested there wasn't much in it.

"Pup (Clarke) walked in to have a look at the light and Broady asked Mitch where to go for dinner,'' Siddle told reporters.

"There wasn't a lot to it. There was no more that what we have seen in the history of cricket.

"You can say all you want but being out there, there was not much being said.

"You try to build it up. It was a tough day for the boys out there and Mitch was trying to get the job done.''

Root said it was good hard cricket, as one would expect in an Ashes battle.

"We knew we had to make sure everyone watching and playing knew we were in a battle and weren't going to lie down,'' Root said.

Root was constantly sledged by the Australians and offered little more than a smile in return.

"They were just trying to get under my skin, and hoping they could find a way to get me out,'' Root said.

"I'd expect that to happen. I'd expect any team to do that.''

Johnson claimed his eighth wicket of the game when he struck a key blow to remove England captain Alastair Cook caught on the leg-side boundary for one in the second over of the innings.

Siddle removed Michael Carberry (14), who was also caught on the leg-side boundary.

Pace warrior Siddle also claimed Pietersen's wicket for the second time in the match and the ninth time in his career, as the tall right-hander inside-edged onto his stumps at 3-131.

Root and Pietersen had added 111 for the third wicket.

England lost their other star batsman just 12 runs later when Ian Bell on six belted a full toss from legspinner Steve Smith to mid-on.

Root fell to spinner Nathan Lyon at 5-171.

The rivalry between the two sides went up a notch as Stokes bumped shoulders with Johnson while attempting a single in the 84th over and the pair exchanged views.

Perhaps rattled by the clash, Stokes was out next over caught at second slip to Ryan Harris.

Broad and Stokes shared an unbroken 37-run stand for the seventh wicket amid much chat between Broad and Johnson which continued as the players walked off the field at stumps.

It was an ugly look for the game.

Rain and a possible morning storm are forecast for Monday in Adelaide with a top of 20 degrees.

- AAP

- NZ Herald

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