England earned a nerve-shredding draw on day five of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney to end Australia’s hopes of a 5-0 series sweep,  where the tourists’ final-wicket pairing hung on for two overs to deny Australia in the fourth Test.

Stumps were withdrawn at 6.50pm AEDT in Sydney, England finished on 270-9 in a notional chase of 388, Stuart Broad (8no) and James Anderson (0no) saw out the final 12 deliveries, which had to be bowled by Australia’s spinners due to losing light.

Australia had seemed primed for victory when the dismissal of England’s last recognised batter, Jonny Bairstow (45 off 101), left the hosts needing two wickets from the final 10.4 overs at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Australia will try to forget the six lost catches that denied them victory and a chance at a 5-0 whitewash in this match. Captain Pat Cummins would also regret declaring so late on the fourth evening, especially because the rain cost him seven overs on the final day.

At tea, England were 174 for four, still needing 214 runs to reach their improbable victory target of 388, with Stokes on 46 and first-innings centurion Jonny Bairstow 10.

Ben Stokes with gutsy 60 and first-inning centurion Jonny Bairstow’s 41 held up Australian victory charge.

Bairstow’s valiant effort came to an end when he was caught close in by Marnus Labuschagne off Scott Boland with 10.4 overs remaining.

Bairstow, who was batting with an injured thumb, followed up his first-innings century with a tenacious 105-ball innings.

But once both depoarted after tea, the Australians were relentless in taking the struggle down till the last ball.

“Yeah, we were really keen (for 4-0) but that was a great game of Test cricket,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said.

“A bit less weather might have got us there. It was a hard-fought game, that’s why we love it.”

Jos Buttler (finger) will now return home due to injury, with Sam Billings set to make his Test debut as Buttler’s substitute behind the stumps in the fifth and final game in Hobart on Friday.

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