Cricket: England openers fall before rain ends play on day three of Ashes opener against Australia

Australia's bowlers have struck twice in quick succession in a devastating spell against England at Edgbaston, before heavy rain washed out the later sessions on the third day of the series-opening Ashes test.

Play was abandoned, after a lengthy rain-enforced break, with England on 28/2 - a lead of 35 runs - after Australia were bowled out for 386 in the morning session, in reply to the hosts' first-innings total of 393.

Pat Cummins.
Pat Cummins. Photo credit: Getty Images

The match was first halted after lunch, with England cruising on 26 for none and looking firmly on course to build up a sizeable lead.

Those plans were derailed, when they lost openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett in the span of just three overs, as Australia took advantage of favourable conditions in a brief restart, with the tourists' fast bowlers getting the ball to move dangerously.

Pat Cummins dismissed Duckett for 19, after Cameron Green pulled off a spectacular diving catch in the slips.

Three balls later, Crawley (seven) followed him off the field, after edging a Scott Boland delivery to wicketkeeper Alex Carey, leaving the pair of Joe Root and Ollie Pope in the middle - both are yet to get off the mark.

The outlook is more promising, with Britain's Met Office predicting a largely rain-free fourth day.

Australia's first-innings total was seven runs short of England's 393, with Usman Khawaja's mammoth innings coming to an end when he was bowled for 141 by Ollie Robinson, before lunch.

The visitors, who resumed on 311/5, lost both settled batters Khawaja and Carey, before three more wickets fell in quick succession.

Khawaja played with great composure for most of his knock, but when England captain Ben Stokes piled on the pressure with an aggressive field placement, he took the bait and charged down the wicket in his attempt to blast a shot over the 'reverse umbrella' field. Robinson's inch-perfect yorker uprooted his off-stump.

Earlier, James Anderson was denied Carey's wicket in the day's first over, due to a Jonny Bairstow drop, but an angling delivery from the veteran bowler snared the Australian for 66 two overs later, ending his 118-run stand with Khawaja.

Captain Cummins contributed 38 runs, hitting Moeen Ali for two sixes in an over, before holing out to deep square leg to bring the innings to an end.

England 393/8d (Root 118 not out, Bairstow 78; Lyon 4/149) Australia 386 (Khawaja 141, Carey 66; Robinson 3/55) England 28/2 (Duckett 19, Crawley 7; Boland 1/1)

England lead by 35 runs