We look ahead to the final day of the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval, with three best bets.
Flat Oval pitch set to scupper England hopes
A thrilling series could be set for an enthralling final day, with all three results still possible heading into Monday at the Oval.
A big six from Stuart Broad, in his final match, was the only runs England could add to their second innings total – setting Australia 384 runs to win.
On most occasions that would be more than enough to win a Test, even with two days of action still remaining, but the conditions have given Australia a real chance of winning the series.
Having already retained the urn, the tourists are now looking for their first series victory in England since 2001 and the openers seem intent on ending that wait.
Usman Khawaja and David Warner put on a solid 135-run partnership and rarely looked in trouble, as the two-left handers made hay on what looks like a slow Oval pitch.
In 40 overs prior to lunch and before the rain came, Australia made light of claims of tiredness and look intent on taking on the challenge of completing the eighth-highest run chase in Test history.
With all 10 wickets still intact and with 249 runs left to win, Pat Cummins’ men will feel they can end the series on a high and claim a 3-1 victory.
Slip cordon have to deliver
With the England bowlers struggling to get much movement or pace off the deck, they are going to need to find different ways to remove the Australian batters.
Broad and James Anderson resorted to bowling some off-cutters on day three, just to leave some uncertainty in the minds of the openers.
A lack of movement means batters being trapped in front of the stumps looks more unlikely and England may have to take their chances in the field if they are to claim a last Test victory.
It’s worth noting that five of the 10 first-innings Australian wickets were caught, not by the wicket keeper, and it may be a similar story again in the second innings.
Two of Warner’s last four dismissals have seen him caught in the slips and the hosts will feel that is a way they can claim his scalp on Monday.
Khawaja can lead the way
Usman Khawaja’s century in the first innings of the first Test at Edgbaston seems a very long time ago, but that knock did highlight the opener’s class.
Sunday’s knock saw him collect his third half-century since that Birmingham ton, not even a whack on the helmet from a Mark Wood bouncer could disrupt his rhythm.
The fact that Australia played their World Test Championship clash with India at the Oval earlier this summer, will also be a help to their top order in this second innings,.
The weather forecast suggests there might be a couple of delays through the day, but it doesn’t look as dreary as Sunday afternoon, with just light showers likely.
Match Betting – Australia to win @ 4/6
Australia Method of 1st Dismissal 2nd Innings – Fielder Catch (exc Wicket Keeper) @ 21/20