Gloom has final say at Wantage Road
England Lions and Australia had to settle for a draw after bad light prevented a potentially thrilling finish to the two-day tour game at Wantage Road.
Chasing 268 for victory, Australia were 227 for six with Matthew Wade and James Faulkner having shared an unbroken 67 when it became too gloomy to continue.
Prior to the alliance between Wade and Faulkner, the only two members of the touring party not to have featured in the Investec Ashes Series to date, it had been a day of struggle for Australia.
A 45-minute delay convinced the Lions to declare on their overnight total of 269 for seven and wickets duly tumbled at regular intervals.
Three of the top four - David Warner, Phil Hughes and stand-in skipper Shane Watson - got past 30, but the latter’s 45 represented the highest score as Australia’s batsmen continued their habit of failing to convert starts.
Ben Stokes ousted Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja cheaply to finish as the pick of the Lions’ attack with 2-27 from 13 overs, yet all five bowlers utilised by Eoin Morgan enjoyed success.
Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan was the first to strike when he had Warner stumped for 35 and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler soon had further reason to celebrate when Ed Cowan nicked Liam Plunkett behind.
Watson looked at ease striking eight fours and a six but gave his wicket away by clipping James Harris to long-leg.
Stokes’ double strike followed and Keith Barker bowled Hughes before Australia’s seventh-wicket pair steadied the ship.
Wade reached 38 and Faulkner 29 before the players were taken from the field nine overs into the evening session.