Can England win the Sydney Test?

Saurabh Roar Pro

By Saurabh, Saurabh is a Roar Pro

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    England were able to avoid an Ashes whitewash by drawing the fourth match at MCG. The pitch was declared poor by the ICC but still, England dominated the majority of the sessions before Steven Smith, the thorn in the tourists’ campaign, scored his 23rd Test hundred to deny them the win.

    England was boosted by the return to form by two of their most senior players, Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook. Cook scored the most runs by a visiting batsman at the MCG and carried his bat with 244*, Broad put in a good all-round performance; with the bat he scored 56 crucial runs before been given out to a controversial catch by Usman Khwaja, and with the ball he finished with a return of 4-51.

    But can England replicate their performance? The Barmy Army will hope so. After the much-improved performance at MCG, their hopes of an England win have risen. The first three days of the Tests are sold out. The pitch has grass on it but it will just aid in the ball coming on to the bat nicely.

    Sydney has always been known to be batsman-friendly while providing assistance to the spinners. Nathan Lyon, who has been in stellar form, will be licking his fingers. Moeen Ali, who hasn’t picked up the wickets he would have liked, should be aided by the SCG surface. Mason Crane will finally be making his debut tomorrow. He will be looking to make an immediate impact.

    The biggest question is can England take 20 wickets? It looks highly unlikely.

    James Anderson has been superb, taking 16 wickets at an average of just over 26, and Broad looked good but can he carry forward the momentum? Ali has been lacking in confidence thanks to his injuries and lack of wickets. England seem to think Mason Crane is the missing link much like Scott Borthwick in the 2013-14 series. But we know how that turned out; England still lost 5-0.

    A closer look at his average of 44 in 25 match says the story, it is even worse than part-timer Dawid Malan’s balls per wicket.

    To be fair, the bulk of the bowling depends on Anderson’s ability to pick up wickets. But he has lacked support from the other end. Even if he produces a magical spell to get through the top order, Steven Smith still stands in his way and going by his form it’s unlikely that even the world’s greatest bowler has any chance unless it swings like in Adelaide during the night session.

    Steve Smith

    (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

    And on the SCG pitch, that is highly unlikely.

    England’s batting will have a lot to worry about. Mitchell Starc is playing. Cook, who scored his magnificent 244* against a bowling attack minus Starc, will have to see off the new ball.

    Their tail, which wagged at the MCG, will have to block those deadly yorkers and bouncers from the fast left-arm bowler. It’s here that captain Joe Root has to lead from the front. The talismanic batsman has looked a shadow of himself, and it seems the captaincy has burdened him and he hasn’t played the natural aggressive game he is known for.

    Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, James Vince, and Mark Stoneman have all displayed the spark to carry the team and at the SCG all of them will look to produce similar magic, but for a longer time.

    For Australia, it gives chance for Usman Khawaja and Cameron Bancroft to score big and stake their claim for the upcoming South African tour. Smith and the Marsh brothers will look to continue their good work. Last time David Warner batted at the SCG, he scored 100 in one session much to the excitement of the crowd.

    An Ashes match is never a dead rubber, it has been acknowledged by both sides.The crowd will certainly come to see the Australian team get their hands officially on the urn.

    Dead rubber or not, the Sydney Test provides ample opportunity to the talents on both sides to do their best work. For England, a 3-1 result looks much better than 4-0. Australia, after failing to win the last Test, will be hungrier to inflict mental damage to the side to make this a long tour. The Sydney Test will be fantastic.

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