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Ashes 2017-18, 5th Test Preview: New Year begins with a clash of titans at the SCG

The first big game of a year being an Ashes Test is always welcomed by the fans.

Steve Smith of Australia and Joe Root of England
Steve Smith of Australia and Joe Root of England shake hands. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

There’s something special about the Sydney Cricket Ground and The Ashes, where the emotions of both the players and fans ride high. Over the years, one destination where the English have performed well in the Ashes is the SCG. After a resolute batting display in the previous game, they will be all pumped up and the fans would be hoping for a cracker-jacker to kick-start 2018.

The first big game of a year being an Ashes Test is always welcomed by the fans. Yes, the series is done and dusted with Australia taking an unassailable 3-0 lead. But one thing no one can disregard is that there can never be a dead-rubber Ashes Test. The tempo at which the game progresses is always compelling and the one-on-one duels are always mind-boggling.

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Steve Smith’s first Ashes assignment proved to be a memorable one personally and for the team. He has been in outstanding form off-late and is set to dominate the final game as well. The Aussie skipper is few runs short of the 6,000 mark and will be the first amongst his arch-rivals to get there. All we can say is fasten your seat belts as an absolute belter is on its way.

Playing Combinations

Australia

One final shot at the dice for Cameron Bancroft, who has been under performing this series. He will open the innings alongside David Warner. With Khawaja coming in at number 3, skipper Steve Smith will follow at number 4. Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell will follow with wicket-keeper Tim Paine coming in at number 7.

Mitchell Starc was ruled out of the fourth Test but is set to take his place back from Jackson Bird. Patrick Cummins and Josh Hazlewood are collaborating brilliantly together and both of them are amongst the wickets. Nathan Lyon too has been sensational thus far and he will be looking to add more wickets to his tally.

Playing XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc

England

After completing a staggering 150 Tests, Alastair Cook finds himself in a very precarious situation.  He will open alongside Mark Stoneman, with James Vince at three. Root will take the number four spot and Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, and Moeen Ali will follow in the middle order.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad will yet again lead the lines for the English. Tom Curran might retain his place in the side. Chris Woakes has been ruled out due to an injury on his left leg and Mason Crane will make his Test debut at Sydney. Moeen Ali will keep his place despite his horrendous display as Woakes is already missing.

England XI: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson

Focus will be on

Cameron Bancroft (Australia)

A fine young talent, but still has a lot to prove at the elite level. Best way to sum up Cameron Bancroft’s first ever assignment at the international level. He is getting starts, but is failing to convert them into big ones, something that can get you axed sooner or later. He will be wary of this and this might as well be one final chance for him to prove himself.

Alastair Cook (England)

The straight drives he played at the MCG will keep haunting the bowlers for a long time. Alastair Cook made the entire world go gaga with one of the finest knocks in the last decade or so. The southpaw was under severe pressure, but he managed to shut all the critics. Just like the previous game, there will be a spotlight on him again, but for different reasons.

StatAttack

2 – Stuart Broad needs two more wickets to join the 400-club.

22 – England won 22 Tests at the SCG, losing 26 and salvaged a draw on 9 occasions.

26 – Steve Smith is 26 runs short of 6,000 runs in Tests.

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