Fourth Ashes Test Day 3 In-Play Update: Hazlewood punctures England fightback

Twenty-four hours ago, the betting implied that the fourth test would boil down to either an Australian win or a draw, with roughly a 50% chance either way. Very briefly, England fans enjoyed a glimmer of hope but, at the end of a day shortened by rain and bad light, the odds are basically back to where they were.

England looked to have the measure of a relatively easy Old Trafford pitch when Rory Burns and Joe Root put on 141 for the third wicket. However a superb spell from Josh Hazlewood bagged three late wickets to swing the match back towards Australia.

England have strong pair at the crease

All is far from lost for the host, though. They only need 97 runs to make the following on and their scorecard reads better on closer inspection. The five wickets gone include night watchman Overton, Denly and Roy – whom, collectively, weren't expected to add that many.

Their current partnership – Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow – is arguably the strongest in the side. They must face and survive the new ball, due in six overs. If they do, 350 is still perfectly within range and with it a good chance to save the match.

Plenty of time left for result

The Met Office forecast for the weekend says no more interruptions, so we should get nearly 200 overs. Old Trafford pitches turn as games progress so there is plenty of time for a result.

Here's my scenario prediction. England bowled out for 310 in another 35 overs. Australia add another 200, declaring just before close of play. Chasing 388, England all out for 200 somewhere around tea on the final day.

Back a Sunday afternoon finish

One way of backing that lies in the Test Match End market – which involves predicting when the final session will be. Day 5 Evening is naturally odds-on but it wouldn't take much for the previous session – Day 5 Afternoon – to shorten up from [5.2].

I'm already on Day 4 Evening, which would require a follow-on being enforced to have a chance. Not a great position right now but the earlier ten unit bet on Australia at [2.16] is promising.

However I would be wary of backing them heavily at [1.9] right now. They wouldn't be that much shorter ahead of the final innings and, if England start well in the morning those odds will drift markedly. All is still to play for.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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