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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Aussie attack looks primed to press home advantage

Plenty of life in Adelaide pitch despite England bowling woes

Australia and Mitchell Starc celebrate the wicket of Mark Stoneman
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Day three from 3am Monday, BT Sport 1

Story of day two

England are 12-1 to win the second Test at the Adelaide Oval after finishing a rain-shortened day two on 29-1, nine overs after Australia skipper Steve Smith had declared on 442-9.

After a slight delay, proceedings began brightly for the Three Lions with Stuart Broad pinning Peter Handscomb in front in the first over to leave the hosts on 209-5.

And Joe Root and his charges would have been hopeful of making further in-roads with the almost-new second pink ball to achieve parity, after a below-par first day, if not take control of the match.

However, after a cagey first hour in which two more lbw wickets were struck-down on DRS and a few found-edges dropped short of the keeper and cordon, matters unravelled spectacularly and quickly.

First, Shaun Marsh and Tim Paine (57) compiled 85 for the sixth-wicket. Then Marsh then combined with Pat Cummins (44) in an eighth-wicket stand of 99. Finally, Nathan Lyon helped Marsh to a fifth five-day century (126no) moments before a beaming Smith called his Baggy Greens in.

Looking bedraggled in the field by the end, England's reply was stout in difficult, swinging conditions until Mitchell Starc sent down a toe-crunching yorker to Mark Stoneman and the opener's referral of umpire Chris Gaffaney's raised finger was not successful.

Australia are 4-11 to build on their Brisbane victory and go to Perth hoping to win back the urn at the Waca.

The draw is 3-1 with no more afternoon and evening rain forecast for South Australia. 

Day three advice 

England's failure to knock over the Australia lower order in Adelaide, much like they failed to do at the Gabba, should not kid punters into thinking that there is nothing in the wicket for bowlers.

When England's old reliables Broad and James Anderson pitched the ball up, it swung and jagged off the seam noticeably while the workmanlike Chris Woakes and Craig Overton forced errors too.

Australia quicks Starc, Cummins and Josh Hazlewood should extract similar movement but with added zip.

And this extra pace, on a track that has shown signs of variable bounce, should mean that that they are more awkward for batsmen to face when they dig the ball in.

Even though the pitch has not shown significant turn or looked like breaking up, Aussie off-spinner Lyon is brimming with confidence and will be looking forward to twirling away from one end in the middle session, especially if the Three Lions are in trouble when left-handers Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali get to the crease. 

Back the Baggy Greens to dismiss the struggling tourists for a first-innings total of 280 or less.

Australia dismissed New Zealand for 202 and 208 when winning a low-scoring first Adelaide day-nighter two years ago and although South Africa declared on 259-9 first-up last year to have an hour's bowl, skipper Faf du Plessis had held them together with 118 not out and the final wicket was worth 39 so they may not have got much further.

The Proteas were then bowled out for 250, with Stephen Cook effectively standing alone with 104, in the second innings to leave Australia seeking just 127 for success.  

Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon took 16 of the 19 South Africa wickets a year ago and the same trio took 15 of the 20 Black Caps wickets. Hazlewood has the best innings-return of 6-70.

England have high-quality stalwarts in Cook and Root and Jonny Bairstow and Moeen are more than capable of crashing quick runs but at the moment, the England batting appears to lack ballast and belief without Ben Stokes.

England first innings total 280.5 or under
2pts 10-11 bet365

Already advised in Racing Post Sport
J Hazlewood top Australia first-innings wicket-taker
1pt 5-2 Betfred, BoyleSports, Hills
D Malan top England first-innings runscorer
1pt 8-1 bet365

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Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon took 16 of the 19 South Africa wickets a year ago and the same trio took 15 of the 20 Black Caps wickets
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