Cook misses out on century as Australia close in on win

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Steve Smith ended Alastair Cook's tenacious innings just before Saturday's close of play as Australia near victory in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.

England were bowled out for only 149 in reply to Australia's 481 all out in the morning session, with Mitchell Johnson (3-21) dismissing Mark Wood (24) and Moeen Ali (30) in his first over on day three.

Cook (85) led by example displaying the kind of fight which the hosts lacked in a pitiful first innings, but part-time spinner Smith (1-7) got rid of the England captain in his first over late in the day.

Jos Buttler was unbeaten on 33 as England were reduced to 203-6 at stumps - still trailing by 129 - and it should just be a matter of time before Australia salvage some pride and ensure captain Michael Clarke ends his international career on a high note on Sunday.

Australia have totally dominated the fifth and final Test and will be in a hurry to get the job done and end the series at 3-2 early on day four with rain forecast.

Wood and Moeen showed some resistance in the morning session in a partnership of 57 before Johnson entered the attack to remove the pair in consecutive deliveries. 

Forced to follow on – a first in Clarke's Australia captaincy - England started their second innings trailing by 332 runs and were 31-1 at lunch after the impressive Peter Siddle increased the pressure on the struggling Adam Lyth (10), who was caught by Clarke at first slip.

Ian Bell (13) was then caught by Clarke off Mitchell Marsh after lunch, having been dropped by the Australia skipper not long previously as well as surviving a review for caught behind.

Joe Root (11) was caught on the boundary attempting to hook Johnson into the crowd and England were 140-4 when Jonny Bairstow (26) was caught at short-leg off Nathan Lyon.

Bairstow appeared to be somewhat unfortunate, as the ball struck Adam Voges' helmet before he took the caught but the Yorkshireman was sent on his way.

Cook held up the tourists as he waited for the bad ball and was determined to hang around, but Ben Stokes edged Lyon to Clarke at slip for a four-ball duck.

Skipper Cook looked set for a century, but his 234-ball knock - which included 11 boundaries - was ended when he was caught at short-leg by Voges just before the close.

Buttler, who has endured a miserable series with the bat, battled through to the close alongside Wood, unbeaten without scoring, but England's party looks set to be flatter than they would have wished on Sunday.


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