Ashes: Cook leads England chase after Australia's 327

Ashes: Cook leads England chase after Australia's 327

Alastair Cook showed signs of finally getting back in the groove as England set after Australia's 327 first innings total in the fourth Melbourne Test on Wednesday.

By: || Updated: 27 Dec 2017 01:00 PM

Melbourne: Alastair Cook showed signs of finally getting back in the groove as England set after Australia's 327 first innings total in the fourth Melbourne Test on Wednesday.

Cook, playing in an English-record 34th consecutive Ashes Test, and his 151st Test overall, batted with growing confidence after a string of low scores as the tourists reached 72 for one at tea.

The former captain had scored just 83 runs in his previous six innings of the lost series, but with the pressure off Cook got more into his stride.

At tea, England were trailing Australia by 255 runs with Cook unbeaten on 37 -- his joint-highest score of the series -- with James Vince not out 17.

Nathan Lyon claimed the only English wicket with another blinding return catch, this time with his right hand, to dismiss opener Mark Stoneman for 15.

The off-spinner is making a habit of sensational catches, particularly his flying effort across the pitch to dismiss Moeen Ali in Adelaide off his own bowling.

England earlier ended Australia skipper Steve Smith's incredible three-year unbeaten run in Melbourne as they bowled out the hosts for 327.

England, already an irretrievable 3-0 down in the five-match series, claimed Australia's last seven wickets for 67 runs to wrap up the hosts' first innings shortly after lunch.

Debutant Tom Curran celebrated his first Test wicket as Smith chopped a short, wide delivery on to his stumps on 76, just 30 minutes into the second day's play.

Smith had not been dismissed in a Melbourne Test match since Boxing Day 2014, and was on track for his third century of the series on a bat-friendly MCG pitch.

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