LONDON: Australia reduced England to 258 for eight and were closing in on a consolation victory when rain halted play on the fourth day of the final Ashes test at The Oval on Sunday.

The touring side removed Mark Wood and Jos Buttler within the first hour but Moeen Ali (17 not out) and Stuart Broad (10 not out) shared an unbroken ninth-wicket partnership of 35 to frustrate Australia.

The forecast rain duly arrived and lunch was taken early but Australia, 74 runs ahead, still have plenty of time to pick up the two wickets they need to give their captain Michael Clarke a victory in his final test.

England, 3-1 up in the series, resumed on 203 for six and Wood was trapped lbw by Peter Siddle with the second new ball for six, the Australians winning a review after the umpire initially ruled it not out.

Buttler, who batted well for his 42, played a loose drive at Mitchell Marsh and was well caught low down by Mitchell Starc at extra cover.