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Australia close on victory in third Ashes Test

The jubilant Australians celebrate Mitchell Johnson's key dismissal of Jonathan Trott at the WACA.
The jubilant Australians celebrate Mitchell Johnson's key dismissal of Jonathan Trott at the WACA.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • England slump to 81 for five wickets, chasing 391 to win third Test in Perth
  • Australia bowled out for 309 in second innings with Mike Hussey scoring 116
  • Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris share two wickets apiece in England collapse
  • England lead Ashes series 1-0 after victory in Adelaide in second Test

(CNN) -- Australia are poised to win the third Test and level the Ashes series after England slumped to 81 for five wickets by stumps on the third day in Perth, chasing 391 for victory.

England were unable to cope with the pace and aggression of a fired-up Australian bowling attack as Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris took two wickets apiece while Ben Hilfenhaus claimed the prized scalp of Kevin Pietersen.

Only Jonathan Trott with a battling 31 offered much resistance but he went in the penultimate over of the day to Johnson, an edge flying to Australian captain Ricky Ponting at slip.

Ponting damaged the little finger of his left hand in pushing the ball up for wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to catch and went off for immediate treatment.

England's dismal day was complete when Paul Collingwood edged Harris to Steve Smith off the final ball, the all-rounder taking a superb catch at third slip.

Harris was the first to strike when he removed opener Alastair Cook lbw for 13 before Johnson, who turned the course of the match with six wickets in England's first innings, had captain Andrew Strauss caught by Pointing.

That brought Pietersen to the wicket, determined to erase the memory of his first innings duck. But he lasted only 23 balls before wafting at a ball from Hilfenhaus, which he should have left, to be caught by Shane Watson for 3.

It was very good today. After yesterday we knew we had to put in a really big performance
--Shane Watson
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Watson was delighted with the performance of his resurgent teammates as they closed on victory.

"It was a very good today. After yesterday we knew we had to put in a really big performance," he told Sky Sports.

"It's great that things went our way today, especially with me and Michael Hussey getting us off to a good start then we bowled and caught very well this afternoon."

Earlier, Hussey continued his impressive batting form of the series with a brilliant century, his stand of 113 for the fourth wicket with Watson frustrating England.

After Watson had been trapped trapped lbw by Chris Tremlett, five short of his century, Hussey upped his scoring rate, sharing another stand of 85 with Smith (36).

Tremlett, who claimed his first five-wicket haul in Tests, Jimmy Anderson, who took his 200th Test wicket and Steven Finn wrapped up the rest of the Australian innings quickly.

Collingwood also chipped in with the wicket of Johnson, who had top-scored with a crucial 62 in Australia's first innings of 268, but the left-arm paceman was to have the last laugh again with the ball as his side ended the day in total command.

He had been dropped after an ineffective display in the drawn first Test in Brisbane and sat out the Adelaide Test which England won to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Strauss' men came to the WACA needing a further victory to retain the Ashes but it now looks as if the remaining Tests in Sydney and Melbourne over the Christmas and New Year period will prove the deciders.

In other cricket action Saturday, South Africa remain in a strong position after the third day of the first Test against India at Centurion.

Jacques Kallis completed a double century as South Africa declared their first innings on 620 for four wickets, a massive lead of 484.

India battled to 190 for two at the close, but are still trailing by 294 runs with two days left.