AUSTRALIA have a 2-0 lead in the 2017/18 Ashes series thanks to a scintillating session from an in-form bowling attack on Wednesday.
The England bats had steered the visitors into a promising position by stumps on day four, but all that hard work was undone in a flash as Josh Hazlewood removed Chris Woakes and then danger-man Joe Root with his first two overs of the day.
Moeen Ali soon fell to fellow spinner Nathan Lyon for the fourth time in as many innings, thus paving the way for Mitchell Starc to clean up the tail in signature fashion.
Australia ended up winning by 120 runs, yet it was anything but a comfortable victory for skipper Steve Smith.
His decision not to enforce the follow-on late on day three invited disaster as Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad tormented the Aussie batting lineup in prime bowling conditions under lights at Adelaide Oval.
Nevertheless, the end result means England head to Perth next week needing at least a draw to keep the series alive.
Ashes odds at online bookmakers point to an urn-clinching win for the Baggy Green on a WACA pitch that has fostered heavy runscoring in recent years.
Smith, Warner head top batsman odds despite Marsh heroics
Shaun Marsh was the deserving man of the match in Adelaide after stroking an unbeaten 126 to put Australia in a commanding position on day two.
Despite that career-best display, early markets for the third Test show little confidence in the West Australian to back up with another big effort on his home ground.
Sportsbet.com.au is paying $8 for Marsh to top score in Australia’s first innings at the WACA, which puts him on the fifth line of betting alongside the under-pressure Peter Handscomb.
Usual suspects Smith ($3.25) and David Warner ($3.75) head that market despite minimal contributions in Adelaide.
In MOTM betting, Marsh’s $21 quote puts him behind several players who have yet to feature in this Ashes series – including younger brother Mitchell Marsh and uncapped seamer Chadd Sayers (both $18).
Again, Smith ($6) and Warner ($7) are the men to beat there, with Starc (also $7) the best bet among the bowlers.
Ashes markets forecast personnel changes for third Test
Although the Aussies are sitting pretty, the national selectors could shake things up for the third Test.
The number five position has come under serious scrutiny after Handscomb’s scratchy digs in Adelaide, and there are several candidates knocking down the door with their Sheffield Shield form.
The standout is Glenn Maxwell, who has smashed 390 runs across his last three innings for Victoria.
The flashy allrounder was on standby for the Brisbane Test when Warner and Marsh came under injury clouds, so one suspects he will be the first man in.
Maxwell is currently paying $9 at Sportsbet to top score for Australia in Perth, and that price could come in further if Handscomb gets the chop.
A flat deck at the WACA could tempt selectors into drafting in some bowling relief, which would bring Mitch Marsh into the reckoning on the back of his unbeaten 141 against Queensland last week.
The WA and Perth Scorchers star is offering $8 for most wickets and $13 for most runs in the first innings.
Former Test opener Joe Burns has also run into some dazzling form, reeling off scores of 81, 103 and 202 not out in his last two games for the Bulls.
It is unclear whether selectors see the 28-year-old as a viable option at five or six, as the top-order trio of Warner, Cam Bancroft and Usman Khawaja is unlikely to change.
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