Fourth Ashes Test Day 1 In-Play Update: England struggling to make headway

Cricketer Steve Smith
Steve Smith is looking menacing again

Only 44 overs were bowled at Old Trafford but it was long enough for Australia to take a significant early advantage, says Paul Krishnamurty...

"Australia's very fast run-rate still makes a result pretty likely, despite the overs lost...they could get to 450 if batting through tomorrow."

Back Australia 10u @ 2.166/5

Latest score: Australia 170-3

Match Odds: England 4.94/1, Australia 2.166/5, Draw 2.962/1

In keeping with Manchester's least favourite tradition, the opening day at Old Trafford was severely curtailed by rain. On the basis of what action we did see, Australia are in front.

Tim Paine won the toss and opted to bat - a risky move given overcast conditions, stop-start play and a suspicion that the pitch could offer something to the quicks first up.

Smith leading strong Aussie comeback

It did from the outset with David Warner falling to Stuart Broad in the first over and at 28-2, the visitors were in trouble. Cue the recovery from by far their two best batsmen during this series.

Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith put on a quick 116 for the third wicket and, most worryingly for the hosts, the latter is still there, unbeaten on 60.

I put up two bets on Twitter. The first, a small two unit risk laying Australia in hope of more bowling breakthroughs, has all but lost. The second on the draw has moved in my favour.

That draw position is one I will look to cash out completely if shortening a little more, to 2.56/4. Australia's very fast run-rate still makes a result pretty likely, despite the overs lost. At this rate they could get to 450 if batting through tomorrow.

Aussies almost sure of competitive total

Of course it isn't that simple and fundamentally reliant on Smith. If he goes quickly, they could well be dismissed for 300. Even then, I doubt their current 2.166/5 odds would get that much bigger. Save that miraculous chase at Headingley, 300 plus has been a big ask for a struggling batting line-up.

In reality, bowling the Aussies out for 350 would be a decent effort. The pitch looked fine and will probably be better tomorrow. Smith has plenty of back-up to come, with Matthew Wade next and the very capable Mitchell Starc arriving at nine.

Here's my betting plan. If you've taken the 3.9 about the draw, cashout fully at 2.56/4 if it becomes possible. Take the 2.166/5 about the visitors and let that one run.

Finally, a small interest on Australia getting 425 or more runs at 3.259/4 is recommended. 255 more from here, scoring quickly, is within range.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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