Pat Cummins claimed the prized scalp of Ben Stokes in the morning session to leave Australia needing another six wickets to retain the Ashes at Old Trafford.

England started the final day in deep trouble on 18-2 – requiring a highly unlikely 365 more runs to win – after Cummins dismissed Rory Burns and Joe Root without scoring late on Saturday.

Jason Roy (31) and Joe Denly (48 not out) knuckled down in a third-wicket stand of 66 before the former was bowled – for the fourth time in the series – by the outstanding Cummins.

Stokes, England’s saviour at Headingley a fortnight ago, was unable to come to the rescue again as he walked after nicking Cummins behind for only one.

Denly and Jonny Bairstow made it through to lunch with England 87-4, with a minimum of 71 overs to bat out for an unlikely draw and avoid going 2-1 down with one match to play.

Roy got forward with conviction in the first hour and dispatched Cummins past midwicket for four, with Denly also digging in.

Mitchell Starc troubled Denly with a short ball after replacing Cummins, the batsman flashing the left-arm quick over the slips for a streaky boundary as Australia strived for a breakthrough.

Nathan Lyon was again cheered each time he caught the ball after his costly botched run out in Leeds and the noise was cranked up when Cummins hurled the ball past him for overthrows.

Roy hit Starc for four with a glorious cover drive just before the drinks break, but was gone when Cummins removed his off stump with a brilliant delivery, which nipped back through the gate.

Stokes came out to a huge roar, but was soon heading back to the pavilion looking dejected after inside-edging a pumped-up Cummins behind, walking off without the finger being raised by umpire Marais Erasmus in a huge moment with lunch looming.