James Anderson (5-43), ably supported by Chris Woakes (4-36), was the star with the ball for England as his maiden five-wicket haul in Australia helped bowl the hosts out for 138, leaving Root's side needing 354 runs for victory. Root led from the front in a partnership of 78 with Dawid Malan (29), hitting his 34th Test half-century to frustrate Australia, who lost both their second innings reviews, and keep England dreaming of an Ashes series-levelling victory. England require a further 178 runs with six wickets remaining. However, they suffered a late blow when Pat Cummins (1-29) struck to end Malan's 80-ball stay at the crease in the third from last over of the day, but night watchmen Chris Woakes (5 no) and Root negotiated the final 13 balls to see the tourists through to 176-4 at the close to set up an intriguing fifth and final day.
England needed early wickets to build on their superb display under lights at the end of day three and Anderson delivered in his fourth over of the day, with night watchman Nathan Lyon (14) holing out to Stuart Broad at mid-off. It was Anderson who went on to record his maiden five-wicket haul in Australia with the wicket of Mitchell Starc (20) - the 25th of his Test career- before Overton picked up the final wicket of Josh Hazlewood (3) as England bowled their Ashes hosts out for 138.
It was a stark improvement for England as they gave themselves a slim chance of victory, but Australia remained firmly in the driving seat with the tourists requiring an improbable 354 runs to win. They made a promising start as Alastair Cook (16) and Mark Stoneman (36) produced an opening partnership of 53, but England soon lost Cook lbw to Lyon (1-37) and Stoneman handing catching practice to Usman Khawaja at gully off Starc (2-65).
With the floodlights starting to take effect after the dinner break, James Vince (15) gave his wicket away, driving loosely at a full, wide ball from Starc and into Handscomb's hands at first slip to leave his team 91-3. But Root, having used a review to overturn an lbw dismissal against Lyon on 32, and Malan were frustrating Australia, whose desperation for a wicket saw them lose both reviews in the space of three balls.