Nottingham, July 14 (IANS) England are set to draw first blood in the Ashes with Australia struggling at 174 for six going into the fifth day of the Trentbridge Test, needing another 137 for victory.
Ian Bell scored a gritty 109 and along with Stuart Broad (65) stretched England's second innings to 375, gaining a healthy 311 lead on a tricky wicket. Australia began their chase well before losing the advantage by the end of day four.
Brad Haddin (11) and first innings hero Ashton Agar (1) were in the middle at stumps.
Australia had made 280 in the first innings, in response to England's 215.
The visitors are up against it but Clarke was optimistic about his team's chances.
"It has been a great game and I am still hoping we will overcome the target. Haddin is there and Ashton (Agar) too. So I am backing them to do the job for us," said Clarke referring to debutant Agar's record 98 which ensured Australia a first innings lead of 65.
It would be a daunting task for the remaining Australian batsmen to cope with the reverse swing of James Anderson (1-44) and turn of Graeme Swann (2-64).
England, resuming the day 326 for six, were all out before lunch.
Shane Watson (46) and Chris Roger (52) gave Australia a promising start through a 84-run stand. Stuart Broad (2-34) trapped Watson leg before to provide England the breakthrough and with that started regular fall of wickets.
Next one to go was Ed Cowan, who played a loose short against part-time off spinner Joe Root and Jonathan Trott did the rest at first slip, leaving Australia at 111 for two.
Anderson, who took five wickets in the first innings, sent back Rogers to opening his account in the second outing.
Skipper Michael Clarke (23) and Steven Smith (17) put up some resistance with a 37-run stand. But their dismissal on successive balls meant their team was in serious trouble.
Phil Hughes, Australia's saviour alongside Agar on day two, was the last man to fall on the day. Swann got one to turn sharply from leg stump and it went on to hit the pads of the southpaw, drawing a huge appeal.
The on field umpire Kumar Dharmasena thought the ball pitched outside leg but his decision was overturned by the third umpire.