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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Australia's bowlers can build on late first-day wickets

England look exposed after losing Root and Bairstow

Australia celebrate the wicket of Joe Root in Sydney
1 of 1

Day two
BT Sport 1, 11pm Thursday

Australia should be backed to bowl out England for less than 345 in their first innings. Joe Root's men will resume in Sydney on 233-5.

The Baggy Greens captured two massive wickets in England captain Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow within ten balls of taking the second new ball in the evening gloom and while Dawid Malan looked compact and resolute in making 55 not out, he has to begin again.

Malan's partner at the crease Moeen Ali is suffering a crisis of confidence and he would have been dropped, for lack of runs as much as wickets, had Chris Woakes not been injured.

With Woakes absent, the Three Lions' tail of Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, debutant Mason Crane and James Anderson looks extremely long.

Curran is a handy bat but a defiant knock in only his second Test is a big ask, while Broad will have irked the Aussie attack by using up plenty of luck in his ninth-wicket stand of 100 with Alastair Cook in Melbourne. In the first three Tests, England's combined runs total for the last five wickets of the first innings was 216.

Australia's left-arm pace ace Mitchell Starc will be hoping to shake off a foot problem he was dealing with before stumps on day one.

If he's fit, the half-hour earlier start will have Starc and fellow Australia quicks Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins purring at the prospect of using the morning moisture on what looks a solid SCG deck.

Throughout the series, wickets have tumbled on the second morning's play and if an early breakthrough is not forthcoming, Steve Smith has not been shy in throwing the hard second new ball to off-spinner Nathan Lyon.

Lyon has tormented the Three Lions' left-handers, including Malan and Moeen, in this series but did not add to his 17 wickets on day one. However, he bowled tidily and with clear turn.

The rain which forced an afternoon start in Sydney has disappeared from the radar, so Australia should have the best batting conditions for the match and punters who did not follow James Milton's pre-match advice of backing David Warner for a first-innings fifty and to be man of the match are pointed towards Sky Bet's price boosted-special of 5-1 about both Warner and Steve Smith getting centuries.

Both men are in superb form and the chance to reach three figures again on their home ground, where they have excellent records, in the Ashes should guarantee concentration.

For England, Root, after a typically fluent 83, Mark Stoneman and Cook all looked relatively unhassled before their dismissals and James Vince gifted Australia his wicket with a wild waft.  

Australia are 4-6 to win the series 4-0 while England are 10-3 to make it 3-1 and the draw is a 7-2 shot.  

England first innings under 344.5
2pts 5-6 Betway  

Already advised by James Milton
D Warner to hit a first-innings fifty
3pts 13-10 bet365
D Warner man of the match
1pt 8-1 bet365

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With Woakes absent, the Three Lions' tail of Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, debutant Mason Crane and James Anderson looks extremely long
E.W. Terms
Sky bet