Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson capped his return to the Australian Test side with a scintillating burst of bowling in the third Ashes Test, giving Australia a real chance of levelling the series at 1-1.

After Australia were bowled out for 268 on the first day, England, cruising at 0-78 early on day two, were well on their way to snaring the win that would secure the Ashes.

But Johnson, recalled as part of a four-man pace attack after being dropped for the second Test, turned the contest back Australia’s way with a mesmerising spell.

In the space of 27 balls, Johnson claimed four wickets for just seven runs. With Ryan Harris chipping in with the scalp of England skipper Andrew Strauss, England went from 0-78 to 5-98.

Johnson was nearly unplayable, bowling regularly around the 140km/h mark and bamboozling the batsmen with significant and pacey in-swing. It was reminiscent of his display at the same venue two years ago when he claimed 8-61 to help skittle South Africa for 281.

Johnson finished with 6-38 as England were bowled out for 187, handing Australia a useful 81-run lead on first innings.

It was then Australia’s turn to try to set up a commanding lead but, once again, their top order faltered, Phil Hughes, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke all going cheaply, before Shane Watson and Mike Hussey steadied the ship. At stumps on the second day, Australia led by 200 runs with seven wickets still in hand.