Thursday 22 March 2018 / 07:25 AM


Via England Cricket Media

A third century of the series for Australia captain Steve Smith denied England as the fourth Ashes Test ended in a draw in Melbourne.

Smith batted for the whole of day five at the MCG to end 102 not out as Australia finished 263/4, a lead of 99, on a flat and unresponsive pitch.

The result means Australia retain a 3-0 lead in the Ashes series ahead of the final Test in Sydney next week.

Australia started the final day with a deficit of 61 runs but their two leading batsman – Smith and David Warner – at the crease.

They saw off England’s early attempts to make a breakthrough before Warner was dismissed for 86, top edging off birthday boy Joe Root for James Vince to take the catch.

The Three Lions hopes of victory increased significantly with the last ball before lunch as they claimed their second wicket of the day when Jonny Bairstow took a fine one-handed catch to his left to remove Shaun Marsh off the bowling of Stuart Broad.

England’s chances of a win were all but eliminated in the afternoon session.

Despite taking the new ball and beating the outside edge of new batsman Mitchell Marsh early in his innings, the tourists were unable to make another breakthrough.

The hosts looked increasingly comfortable on a day five pitch that offered little assistance for the bowlers against two batsmen looking to defend and secure the draw.

It meant that Australia came in at tea on 225/4, a lead of 61 runs.

England’s slim chances of victory disappeared as Smith and Marsh held firm.

Smith moved on to his 23rd Test century – and third of this Ashes series – as the game meandered towards a close.

With no sign of any deterioration on the wicket, the captains shook hands and agreed on the draw with Australia 263/4.

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