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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Steve Smith could steer Aussies to big lead in Perth

England shoved out to 9-2 after another batting collapse

Jonny Bairstow (left) and Mark Stoneman fail to snap up a chance offered by Shaun Marsh
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Resumes BT Sport 1, 2.30am Saturday

Australia hit 9-1 in-play during the first session of the third Ashes Test in Perth but normal service had been resumed by the close of play as Steve Smith led an impressive fightback from the hosts.

The Aussies finished day two as evens favourites to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series after England failed to build on superb centuries from Dawid Malan (140) and Jonny Bairstow (119).

Joe Root's men are out to 9-2 to win at the Waca and the draw is a 13-8 chance with thunderstorms forecast for Sunday and Monday.

Malan and Bairstow looked primed to bat Australia out of the game as England reached 368-4 in their first innings but Malan's dismissal sparked an all-too-familiar collapse.

England lost their last six wickets for just 35 runs as they were bowled out for 403 - well short of runs lines of around 465 at the start of the day's play. Malan had been an 8-1 shot to top-score for the tourists.

Australia made solid progress in reply thanks to skipper Smith, whose unbeaten 92 anchored their score of 203-3.

A couple of early wickets would tilt the game back in England's favour but Coral make Australia 10-11 to score 478 or more in their first innings and as long as Smith is at the crease the home side will be confident of compiling a substantial lead.

The England bowlers' lack of pace was ruthlessly exposed by Smith, who batted serenely as he closed in on a 22nd Test century.

He played superbly with the lower-order batsmen on his way to 141 not out in the first Test at the Gabba and will know that another big score could well seal the series for Australia.

Once Smith gets in, he is a hard man to dislodge and he has finished unbeaten in three of his five Test centuries in the last 12 months, scoring 165 not out against Pakistan in Melbourne and 178 not out against India in Ranchi as well as his effort in Brisbane.

Hills go 5-6 that the Aussie captain reaches at least 146 and that is worth a bet - ominously for England's chances of clinging on to the Ashes urn.

Recommendation
S Smith over 145.5 first-innings runs
3pts 5-6 Hills


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A couple of early wickets would tilt the game back in England's favour but Coral make Australia 10-11 to score 478 or more in their first innings
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