England were 178 runs from a stunning comeback victory in the second Ashes Test after James Anderson grabbed five wickets and Joe Root steered the tourists to 176 for four at close of play on an extraordinary fourth day on Tuesday.
Root, who eked out a half century under the Adelaide Oval lights, will probably need to stay out in the sun for much of the fifth day if he is to lead England to a first Test win in Australia in nearly seven years.
The tourists will resume with Root 67 not out and Chris Woakes, unbeaten on five, keeping his skipper company after Dawid Malan was bowled for 29 by a Pat Cummins snorter shortly before the close.
Australia skipper Steve Smith will be hoping his bowlers can keep up the pressure on the final day and help him avoid the ignominy of becoming only the second captain to lose a Test after not enforcing the follow-on.
Anderson (5-43) and Woakes (4-36) had fired England’s resurgence when they did the lion’s share of the work of dismissing the Australians for 138 at tea with a brilliant display of seam bowling.
Set a ground record 354 to win the Test and level the series after last week’s 10-wicket Brisbane defeat, England made a steady start before losing openers Alastair Cook (16) and Mark Stoneman (36) in the last half an hour of the second session.
It was to the third session that Australia’s quicks would have been looking to make serious inroads into the England batting, however, and when James Vince was quickly caught in the slips off Mitchell Starc for 15, it looked to be going to plan.
England had started to enjoy the best of the DRS system, however, with Root first overturning an lbw decision off the bowling of Nathan Lyon and seeing a Smith review fail when the Australian suspected an inside edge.
Smith left his team with no referrals for what could be a tense final day a couple of balls later when he pursued an lbw decision against Malan only for the tracking to show the ball would have gone over the wickets.
Root, cheered on by the vocal Barmy Army of England fans on the hill under the historic scoreboard, made the most of the reprieve and reached his fifty with a lovely back cut for four, one of nine he peppered throughout his gritty 114-ball knock.
Anderson had earlier picked up where he left off in Monday’s night session, dismissing nightwatchman Lyon, a jittery Peter Handscomb and Starc to snare his maiden five-wicket haul in four tours to Australia.
Woakes chipped in to see off Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh cheaply, making sure the latter was unable to get anywhere near the unbeaten 126 he hit to underpin Australia’s 442 for eight declared in the first innings.
England had looked certain to go 2-0 down in the series when they folded for 227 in reply until Anderson finally found his mojo with the pink kookaburra in the inaugural Ashes day-nighter.