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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Feisty Australian Warner could have the last hurrah

Home comforts set to help attacking opener star at SCG

David Warner goes on the attack in the fourth Ashes Test at the MCG
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BT Sport 1
Starts 11.30pm Wednesday

England stopped the rot in the fourth Ashes Test but their draw on a lifeless pitch in Melbourne won't live long in the memory, unless you're either Alastair Cook or a relieved bookmaker.

Cook carried his bat for 244, having scored only 83 runs in his first six innings of the series, and his epic effort ensured that layers no longer have to worry about hefty liabilities on a 5-0 Australia win.

England briefly threatened to get a consolation win on the board at the MCG before the all-too-familiar spectacle of a Steve Smith century snuffed out their chances.

Smith, who has scored 604 runs in just six innings, will be eager to end the series with a victory on his home ground and Australia are 4-6 to put England back in their place in Sydney.

England won at the SCG in 2003 and 2011 but they are 7-2 to finish this testing tour on a high while a second successive draw is 15-4.

Best bets
Smith's sensational runscoring feats have overshadowed every other batsman in the series but opener David Warner could cut loose at a venue he loves in the final Test.

England have bowled fairly well to the aggressive left-hander, trying to starve him of runscoring opportunities, yet he is still second in the batting charts after making 103 and 86 at the MCG.

Like skipper Smith, Warner plays his home games for New South Wales at the SCG and he has delighted the locals on his last three Test appearances in Sydney.

He smashed 101 off 114 balls against India in 2015 and 122 not out from 103 deliveries against the West Indies in 2016 before upping his strike-rate yet again in last January's Test against Pakistan.

He scored 113 off 95 balls in the first innings, reaching three figures before lunch on day one, and an extraordinary 55 off 27 helped set up Australia's declaration in the second innings.

Unsurprisingly, Warner was named man of the match for that explosive display and the 8-1 that he gets the individual award again is worth a punt, as is bet365's offer of 13-10 about a first-innings fifty for the dynamic opener.

Another of the New South Wales contingent, spinner Nathan Lyon, merits a small bet to be Australia's top first-innings wicket-taker.

Lyon tormented England's left-handed batsmen in the first two Tests, taking 11 wickets at a miserly economy rate. The pitches in Perth and Melbourne offered him less assistance but he should be a major threat at the SCG, where both teams are considering bolstering their spin attacks.

He is likely to have plenty of opportunities – in his last three Sydney Tests he bowled 46, 46 and 33 overs in the first innings, taking two wickets against India and three against the Windies and Pakistan. 

D Warner to score a first-innings fifty
3pts 13-10 bet365
D Warner to be man of the match
1pt 8-1 bet365
N Lyon top Australia first-innings wicket-taker
1pt 7-2 bet365, Betfred, 188Bet

Australia have lost only two of their last 23 SCG Tests but both of those defeats were inflicted by England.

The pitches are traditionally the most spin-friendly in the land, with Shane Warne and Stuart McGill the leading wicket-takers in the venue's history, and the Aussies' last three first-innings opening partnerships in Sydney have been 151, 100 and 200. 

Team news
Mitchell Starc is hoping to return on his home ground after missing the MCG Test with a heel injury. Spinner Ashton Agar has been called into the squad.

Hampshire's 20-year-old leg-spinner Mason Crane is poised to make his England Test debut, replacing either Moeen Ali or Tom Curran.

Sunny and dry for the first four days, with highs of 34C. Light showers are forecast for the morning of day five.

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Lyon tormented England's left-handed batsmen in the first two Tests, taking 11 wickets at a miserly economy rate
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