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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Aussie stars could dazzle under the lights

Beaten England step into the unknown at Adelaide

Adelaide's red sky proved a delight for Australia in last year's win over South Africa
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Australia v England
BT Sport 1, 3.30am Saturday

Losing heavily in Brisbane is a familiar fate for visiting teams in Australia but England's cricketers take a step into the unknown when the first day-night Ashes Test starts in Adelaide.

Both teams are putting a positive spin on the pink-ball contest with England hoping their bowlers find more lateral movement than is customary down under and Australia coach Darren Lehmann warning that, under the lights, the Adelaide Oval boasts the quickest pitches in the land.

Lehmann's bowlers did him proud at the Gabba, where fast men Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were superbly supported by spinner Nathan Lyon.

And Australia captain Steve Smith produced a stunning century in the first innings as England slipped from a position of relative strength to a ten-wicket defeat. 

"We had our noses in front at times," James Anderson reflected ruefully but the same was true on the 2013-14 tour which ended in a 5-0 defeat for England.

Joe Root's men are 11-4 to level the series in Adelaide with Australia, who have beaten New Zealand and South Africa in two previous day-night Tests at the venue, 4-6 and the draw 5-1.

Several of Australia's key players have excellent records at the Adelaide Oval and they will be determined not to give England a sniff of a recovery in the series.  

Best bets
The unusual playing conditions make this an intriguing Test for punters and bet365 have trimmed their odds on the match finishing in the second session of day three from 28-1 to 20-1 and the third session of day three from 20-1 to 16-1. 

The ball is expected to zip around late in the day and Faf du Plessis declared South Africa's first innings after 76 overs last year in order to have a late crack at the Australian openers.

The punt didn't pay off for Du Plessis, not least because Usman Khawaja scored 145 after deputising for David Warner at the top of the order, and a runs line of 26.5 with Hills looks well within Khawaja's scope.

His line is seven runs higher elsewhere and, while the left-hander made just 11 in his only innings at the Gabba, his domestic form for Queensland this season has been terrific, including a century in a day-night clash with Victoria.

Smith was able to put his feet up in the second innings as openers Warner and Cameron Bancroft steered Australia to a target of 170 but England had already seen enough of the home skipper.

His 141 not out was an outstanding effort, both technically and mentally, and his last six Test innings at Adelaide have been 162 not out, 52 not out, 53, 14, 59 and 40. The 6-5 that he reaches 50 in the first innings looks well worth a bet.

Josh Hazlewood ripped the heart out of England's batting in the second innings, dismissing three of the top four, and he relishes day-night Tests in Adelaide.

Hazlewood took nine wickets in the 2015 win over New Zealand and 4-68 in the first innings against South Africa last year so he is a major contender to be the home side's top bowler.

At the prices, Dawid Malan merits a small bet to be England's top runscorer. He is an 8-1 shot, batting at number five in an unconvincing top order, and after a couple of fifties and a ton in the warm-up games he played nicely for his 56 on his Ashes debut at the Gabba.

U Khawaja to score 27 or more first-innings runs
3pts 5-6 Hills
S Smith to score a first-innings fifty
2pt 6-5 Paddy Power
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

Second Test lowdown

The Adelaide Oval is renowned as a batting paradise, with England scoring 620-5 on their way to victory in 2010 and Australia following up with first-innings totals of 604-7, 550, 570-9 and 517-7 on their next four visits.

However, the day-night game against New Zealand in 2015 was a tight, low-scoring affair and South Africa made 259-9 and 250 in last year's defeat.

Team news
Australia are unlikely to change a winning team but South Australia paceman Chadd Sayers is waiting in the wings for a debut on his home ground.

Moeen Ali suffered a cut to his spinning finger at the Gabba but is expected to be fit to bowl. Jake Ball may retain his place despite disappointing match figures of 1-115 in Brisbane.

Dry with light cloud for all five days, highs of 22C.

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Josh Hazlewood ripped the heart out of England's batting in the second innings, dismissing three of the top four, and he relishes day-night Tests
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