England edged closer to its first win over Australia at Lord's in 75 years, taking a 521-run lead on the third day of the second Ashes test to force the tourists to set a world-record run chase to win.
|Ricky Ponting, right, feels the frustration [AFP]
England, seeking to regain the Ashes, made 311-6 in its second innings before rain stopped play.
Captain Andrew Strauss had earlier opted not to enforce the follow-on when Australia was dismissed for 215 before lunch in reply to England's 425.
Matt Prior scored 61 from 42 deliveries to help England push on toward setting Australia a target.
Prior added 86 from 74 balls with Paul Collingwood (54), after Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara had laboured.
Prior was run out by a direct hit from Marcus North on the boundary.
Andrew Flintoff then scored 30 not out to take England's lead past 500.
With two days left, Australia needs to better the world-record 418 that West Indies made against it in 2003.
England was 57-0 at lunch but Australia removed the openers in the second and fourth overs following the interval, bowled by offspinner Nathan Hauritz.
Alastair Cook went back to a ball he should have been forward to and was lbw to Hauritz for 32.
Then Strauss, who made 161 in the first innings, edged a turning ball to Michael Clarke at slip for the same score.
England might have crashed from 61-0 to 88-4 if Australia had then taken its opportunities.
Pietersen survived an lbw appeal on 10 to Ben Hilfenhaus.
As Pietersen looked anxiously toward the umpire, he wandered down the pitch and Ricky Ponting tried to run him out from slip, but missed the stumps. He would have been out by three feet.
Three balls later, Bopara on 9 edged a probing delivery from Peter Siddle on off stump to Ponting at second slip, which he dropped at shin height.
It was a painful time for Ponting as the drop was replayed on the big screen several times.
Bopara, when unbeaten on 19, was almost caught in the over before tea after pulling Mitchell Johnson to Hauritz at mid-on.
Bopara stood his ground and the third umpire ruled "not out'' following inconclusive TV replays.
Bopara eventually prodded an offspinner from Hauritz to Simon Katich at short leg.
He made 27 from 93 balls. Pietersen, who limped some of his runs having suffered recently with an Achilles tendon injury, was caught behind off an inside to Siddle for 44 from 101.
At the start of the day, Australia's tail-end batsmen almost reached the follow-on target of 226 through Siddle (35) and Hauritz (24), who combined in a ninth-wicket stand of 44.
Hauritz eventually edged Graham Onions to Collingwood at third slip to end his 57-minute innings.
Siddle was last man out for a Test best, edging Onions to Strauss at first slip.