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Stokes hit century, England fights on

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

PERTH - Kiwi-born youngster Ben Stokes is unbeaten on 117 as England continue to resist Australia's push for a series-clinching victory in the third Ashes Test.

Set 504 to win, England resumed on 5-251 and reached 6-332 at lunch on Tuesday's fifth and final day of play.

While it still seems unlikely, England now find themselves still in the hunt and needing 172 runs to claim one of the most remarkable wins in the game's history.

Matt Prior (26) dug in, adding 76 for the sixth wicket with Stokes.

The second new ball was always going to be a pivotal moment and Mitchell Johnson (2-70) thudded a short ball into Prior's ribs with the fourth over with the new nut.

Prior was out caught behind to a wide ball in Johnson's next over.

The courageous Stokes top-edged a bouncer from Johnson to the fine-leg boundary to notch his maiden hundred off 159 balls including 16 fours in his second Test.

Five Australia batsmen have scored a total of seven hundreds while the 22-year-old Stokes is England's only century-maker in the series.

Ryan Harris hit one of the large cracks on the pitch in the 73rd over as the ball jagged about a metre wide of Stokes' bat. Spinner Nathan Lyon has also found the cracks.

But England have resisted. Tim Bresnan is seven not out.

Stuart Broad is due to come in next for England, despite a bruised foot suffered while batting in the first innings.

The world record successful fourth innings run chase is the 7-418 scored by West Indies against Australia in Antigua in May 2003.

Australia put themselves in a strong position on Monday as Shane Watson smashed 103 in the home side's second innings of 6-369 declared.