Day 3 of the third Ashes Test began with England needing to bat through the day and get themselves back on terms with the Australians.
They did make it through to stumps still in their first innings, but aside from a majestic century from Kevin Pietersen, assisted by 60s from Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, it was a slog rather than a statement of intent.
They have, however, drawn within sight of the follow-on total, which will take a sizeable chunk of time out of the game with Australia having to bat again.
With rain predicted, which could affect Days 4 and 5, closing to within 200 of Australia's score could be enough to see England sneak away from Old Trafford with a draw, which will see them retain the urn.
Morning session (England 119-4)
Resuming on 52-2, skipper Cook and Jonathan Trott were not together in the middle for long, with Ryan Harris getting Trott to nibble a ball to second slip with just five runs to his name.
Cook and Pietersen, who have formed some crucial partnerships for England during the course of their Test careers, settled into a pattern together, the captain raising his 50 as KP played himself in.
But with the end of the session drawing into view, the partnership was ended on 46, with Cook tickling a ball down the leg side from Mitchell Starc, and Brad Haddin taking one of the finest catches of his career at full stretch. It was a gift that made it Australia's morning.
Afternoon session (England 211-4)
For perhaps the first time in the match, England had the best of the session, with Pietersen playing with authority and Bell complementing him with elegance.
The duo batted through the entire two hours, adding 92 runs without loss.
Key was the dismissal of Nathan Lyon from the attack. Though the spinner did not bowl badly, Pietersen hit him for successive sixes to reach his half-century, while Bell added another maximum.
Six overs with the new ball did nothing to break the stand, either, as England began to discover the assurance that had helped them fashion a 2-0 lead in the series.
Evening session (England 294-7)
Bell has been such an enduring presence at the crease all Ashes long that it was a surprise when, on 60, he missed a ball from Harris that nipped back in a fraction and took the top of off stump.
Pietersen was still there, however, swaggering to his century with an outrageous uppercut over the top behind point.
Jonny Bairstow was next to fall, having failed to convince on his way to 22 before chasing a wide one from Mitchell Starc.
And when Starc finally ended Pietersen's innings on 113, trapped in front of the wickets, England were in a spot of bother, needing 48 runs from their remaining three wickets to avoid the follow-on.
Stuart Broad and Matt Prior eked out 14 of those before the end of the day, but the pressure remains firmly on England, who may be casting one eye up at the skies when they arrive at Old Trafford tomorrow, hoping for a bit of rain to help them to the draw.
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