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View From Down Under: Australia tipped to end Ashes on a high despite England fightback

England’s fightback in the Boxing Day test has breathed new life into the Ashes series ahead of the fifth and final test starting in Sydney on Thursday.

England turned the tables on the Aussies at the MCG to force a draw and end the host’s chances of a 5-0 series whitewash.

But while the tourists showed some long-awaited fight, England has not won in Australia since 2011 and is still a long shot to take a win at the SCG.

The fifth test offers Steve Smith another chance to make history at the SCG. The Australian captain has scored three centuries this series and one more will see him become the first captain to ever notch four tons in a single Ashes campaign.

The addition of spinning all-rounder Ashton Agar to the Australian squad could pose a dilemma for selectors as his inclusion in the XI would likely come at the expense of either Jackson Bird or Mitchell Marsh.

For England, leg-spinner Mason Crane looks almost certain to make his Test debut at the expense of off-spinner Moeen Ali.

“We think he’s a guy that has got the goods and the more he plays at this level the better he will get. You have got to start somewhere,” England coach Trevor Bayliss said this week.

Crane played Sheffield Shield for New South at the SCG in March, taking five wickets for 23 runs against South Australia.

William Hill is paying $1.67 (-149) to close the series 4-0, with $4.40 (+340) for an England win to make it 3-1 and $4.50 (+350) for a draw.

In the Big Bash League, the Adelaide Strikers are tipped to take the tournament lead when they face the Hobart Hurricanes on Thursday.

Adelaide trails the Perth Scorchers by two points with a game in hand and is paying $1.67 (-149) to move level at Hobart, with the Hurricanes on $2.20 (+120).

The Scorchers could relinquish the lead on Friday when they travel to the third-place Brisbane Heat.

The Heat, who have played two games more than the Strikers and one more than the Scorchers, are at $1.73 (-137) to take second spot with $2.10 (+110) for the loss.

In the A-League, Sydney FC is expected to extend its sizable lead at the top of the table with wins against the second-place Newcastle Jets on Thursday night and the Brisbane Roar on Monday.

Sydney leads the Jets by eight points after 13 matches and is paying just $1.45 (-222) to make it an 11-point lead at home, with a whopping $7 (+600) for a loss and $4.50 (+350) for a draw.

In Brisbane on Monday, the eighth-place Roar are $5 (+400) underdogs, with $1.60 (-167) for Sydney FC.

Third-place Melbourne City can reel in Newcastle with a win over the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday with $1.61 (-164) for a victory and $5 (+400) for a loss.