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Lyon strikes, England 2-88 and lead by 157

By AAP Newswire

Nathan Lyon snagged two wickets before lunch on day three as he attempted to conjure a collapse and give Australia hope of victory in the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval.

The pressure was on Lyon to produce something special on Saturday, when England reached 2-88 at the meal break to lead by 157 runs.

The highest successful chase at the Oval is England's 9-263 against Australia in 1902, highlighting why the hosts are well placed to record a consolatory victory that would draw the series.

Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, who have been burdened with a big workload during the past fortnight, failed to create a quick breakthrough in the morning but Lyon had Rory Burns and Joe Root out edging.

Ben Stokes, yet to score from five balls, and Joe Denly, unbeaten on 37, have a great opportunity to bat Australia out of the contest in ideal batting conditions.

Burns and Denly shared a 54-run stand, comfortably the highest opening partnership from either side this series, after surviving a dramatic four-over burst late on day two.

Marcus Harris handed Denly a life on one when he put down a regulation catch in Friday's final over, which ended with Burns successfully reviewing his lbw dismissal.

Harris' error has already proven incredibly costly; not only because of the runs but the fact he is unable to field and required seven stitches to mend the split webbing on his left hand.

Australia expect Harris will be able to bat in the final innings of the series.

Harris and other members of the top six will need to offer Steve Smith more support with the bat than they did on day two, when Australia crumbled to be all out for 225.

A sick Smith logged his lowest score of this Ashes, 80, and had little support from teammates outside Marnus Labuschagne's 48.

"We've let go a few chances throughout this Test ... however, we're only 75 runs behind. Teams have come back and won from this," Smith said after play on day two.

"It is Ashes cricket and you have to keep digging deep.

"Even when you are tired you just have to keep giving a little bit more and the boys will do that."