Latest score: Australia 284, England 267-4
Powered by a maiden test century for Rory Burns, England are in firm control of the first test. The left-hander remains unbeaten on 125 as the hosts close in on Australia's total with six wickets to spare. Anything less than a first innings lead of 100 would be disappointing from here.
England could power clear in the morning
Burns' innings, along with useful contributions from Joe Root and the also unbeaten Ben Stokes, looks like proving decisive. It was hard work on a slow pitch that rarely looked likely to yield 400 but England are now odds-on to go beyond what would be a formidable target.
I'm still of the view that par for the first innings was around 300. Australia had no luck with reviews and, as yet, no spate of wickets as is generally the norm.
Perhaps that will change tomorrow morning but any deficit over fifty will leave a mountain to climb for the Aussie batsmen as scoring will only get harder as the match progresses.
Lyon will be a big second innings threat
Are England bankers at [1.31]? No, because we know how test cricket can change and how dramatically this market moves. The forecast is not entirely clear but, assuming it isn't a draw, here's a plausible turnaround.
England all out for 380. Australia start well, on target to pass 300. In that scenario, the visitors start to challenge for favouritism because England will have to bat last on a wearing, turning pitch. Nathan Lyon was immediately dangerous and could be deadly later if given something to defend.
I've just backed Australia again – 4 units @ 3.55.
Not expecting England to get too far ahead in the first innings and batting last will be very difficult. #Ashes https://t.co/IiTiUsqYjh
? Political Gambler (@paulmotty) August 2, 2019
That scenario is more hope than prediction and if it materialises, I'll be cashing out what is currently a poor position. In addition to the two bets placed yesterday, I backed Australia at [3.55] just as the current seventy-odd partnership begun in hope of a collapse. Wickets are needed, fast.
Back a Sunday evening finish
Rather than digging a further hole on that market, I'm backing the Aussie bowlers in a different way. 400 or more England 1st Innings Runs is available to lay at [1.56]. One decent spell with two or three wickets tomorrow morning would make it a tough ask.
Another interesting market to follow from here is Test Match End – predicting the final session. I like Day 4 Evening at [4.5]. That would fit well with something like England 400 then Australia 250, leaving 134 to chase.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty
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