Rain dents England's chances of Ashes Boxing Day Test win

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AAP

Showers have stymied England's hopes of a dead-rubber victory at the MCG, with rain ruining approximately one and a half sessions on day four of the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia were 2-103 at stumps, trailing by 61 runs with their two best batsmen at the crease.

David Warner and Steve Smith loom as the tourists' most imposing roadblocks as they seek to restore some pride after relinquishing the urn in Perth.

Warner is 40 not out from 140 balls, having faced more maidens in this dig than any other of his Test innings.

Smith is unbeaten on 25, also batting cautiously a day after coach Darren Lehmann all but conceded Australia's hopes of another whitewash had been extinguished by Alastair Cook's record-breaking knock.

Wet weather forced umpires to stop play 12 overs into the post-lunch session.

The action resumed but umpires called for the covers soon after. Play was officially abandoned at 5.15 pm local time.

Warner and Smith's partnership has lasted 22.4 overs but featured only 38 runs. Lehmann suggested England's fields and bowling tactics were a major reason for the stonewall.

"You can't do much there," Lehmann told the Nine Network on Friday.

"Best form of defence is sometimes scoring runs, having said that ... you have to play what is in front of you.

"The boys fought hard.

"The ball is obviously reversing. It is tough work for a new batter, so once you are in you have to stay in."

Lehmann's England counterpart Trevor Bayliss suggested the visitors could put Australia under a lot of pressure on day five, but only if they produce the patience required to dismiss Smith and Warner.

"We've got to be very disciplined," Bayliss said.

"There's not a lot you can do on that type of wicket.

"You've got to bowl reasonably straight, good lengths and wait for a mistake. There's a few things we can try but they're two very, very good batters."

England were bowled out for 491 on Friday morning at the MCG, where Jimmy Anderson fell for a duck off the first ball and Cook carried his bat to finish 244 not out.

Cook became the first batsman to carry his bat in a completed Test innings at the MCG, while it was the highest Test score by any opener to have carried his bat in the history of the sport.

Cameron Bancroft and Usman Khawaja both started positively, but fell for 27 and 11 respectively.

Bancroft and Khawaja will be desperate for a big score in the final Ashes Test in Sydney before selectors pick a squad for the ensuing tour of South Africa.

Bancroft stroked four boundaries then played on to Chris Woakes.

Khawaja lofted a six off Moeen Ali then edged a pinpoint delivery from Anderson to keeper Jonny Bairstow.

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