Australia require a further 399 runs to defeat England
Australia have given themselves a chance of saving the third Ashes Test.
Firstly by restricting their first-innings arrears to 142 instead of over 200 had Saturday evening's chances been taken, then by Glenn McGrath forcing a delay in Michael Vaughan's declaration by picking up four wickets in eight overs, three to slog strokes played for the good of the cause.
Everything is clicking into place for England, with Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell both enjoying their best match of the series. Strauss hit a brilliant 106 from 151 balls while Bell's pair of contrasting half-centuries were played with admirable due care and attention to the state of the game.
With Ashley Giles doing so well at Edgbaston and Old Trafford, that only leaves Geraint Jones and Matthew Hoggard who have yet to pull their real weight in the series.
What a contrast yesterday was to soggy Saturday, with 87 overs being bowled instead of just 14 and England's perfectly- paced second-innings total of 266 for six in 62 overs setting up another likely epic finish.
Even with today's minimum number of overs extended to 98 as part makeup for Saturday's near-washout, an Australian victory target of 423 is surely academic, but this series has crackled along at such a frenetic pace that nothing can be ruled out.
That said, it is not in the nature of the Aussie beast to duck a challenge, but the pivotal Test of a five-match series - with the score currently 1-1 - is not the time for a win-or-bust approach. And, of course, the tourists are effectively a batsman short because of Michael Clarke's worrying back injury.
All credit to both sides for their efforts to punch and counter-punch, despite the appalling standard of wicketkeeping. Adam Gilchrist missed the same sort of long stumping as did Geraint Jones 24 hours earlier and he also put down a catch off Shane Warne, who can never have had such a luckless day.
His unbroken 25-over spell was out of the same top drawer as at Lord's and Edgbaston and, without him, Australia would have at least an hour-and-a-half's batting last night instead of 40 minutes.
His 25 overs cost 74, while the 36 bowled by the rest were plundered for 198. Add his magnificent innings of 90 which kept England at bay and it was close to being a one-man rearguard.
The other senior statesman, McGrath, rarely goes for 115 off 21 overs and the most fortunate of his 28 five-wicket hauls did not ease the pain.
It was nice to see him shake Warne's hand as they went off with the declaration made and another nice gesture was a congratulatory handshake from Gilchrist to Strauss when he reached his sixth hundred in only his 32nd Test innings.
At the start of play, England needed to mop up the last three Australian wickets in no more than an hour if they wanted to declare before the close.
It took 15 overs from which 38 precious runs were eked by Warne and Jason Gillespie. England pace bowler Simon Jones has already earned a reputation for taking a wicket early in a new spell and he obliged again, this time with his second ball.
The first was smacked by Warne for four through the covers to take him to 90, only for the batsman to hook the next ball straight to Ashley Giles at deep square leg. He walked off to a great ovation and what entertainment he has given everyone in this series.
Brett Lee was brilliantly caught by Marcus Trescothick to his left at slip, with his wicketkeeper thankfully minding his own business, but still there was Gillespie.
He is is a difficult tailender to dislodge and his 26 included a massive pulled six off Jones before the Welshman won a marginal lbw decision to give him career-best figures for England of 17-6-53-6.
The England lead of 142 needed tripling and Trescothick duly blazed away until he played on to one from McGrath which bounced a lot.
Vaughan never got going and, as at Edgbaston, feebly top-edged a short one from Lee to long leg where substitute Brad Hodge took a finely judged running catch.
At 97 for two and with a struggling Strauss joined by Bell, the run-rate dipped below four as Warne wove his web of mystery for 45 minutes in which neither batsman could do much more than keep him out.
The last over before tea was the turning point when Strauss swung the legspinner for two fours and that started a non-stop onslaught in which 96 runs came off 20 overs. Bell hit 25 in three successive overs from Warne, McGrath and Gillespie. He hit a superb straight six off McGrath and Strauss cut and pulled his way to a wellearned hundred off 151 balls with 48 in boundaries.
A score of 224 for two in the 54th over promised an early declaration, but McGrath spoiled the plan by getting Strauss caught at mid-wicket, then trapping Kevin Pietersen plumb lbw to a great yorker first ball before bowling Andrew Flintoff who swung all across a straight one.
Bell was then caught in the deep for a a well-paced 65 and the Warwickshire batsman has done himself a lot of good in the match.
That ended a burst of four wickets in eight overs for McGrath, but Geraint Jones put his own dollop of icing on the cake by hitting the gutsy pace bowler for 6-4-6 before Vaughan closed the innings.
The light was never going to last for 40 minutes, so the England captain sensibly brought on himself and Giles for the last 20 and both worried left-handers Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
The odds slightly favour a draw unless the new ball can make early inroads this morning.
After that, the still-decent pitch makes it hard work for the faster bowlers, but Giles has those four left-handers to bowl at and a second new ball will be available late on today anyway.
Another big crowd is expected on a pay-at-the-gate basis. Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes says this will, for the first time in the history of the ground in over 100 years, give a crowd attendance for the match of over 100,000.