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Aussies need lead, or bust on 'moving day'

Australia must bat well into day three or face the task of defying WACA Ground history to win the third Test

History suggests Australia will need to post a first-innings lead in the second Magellan Ashes Test or face the daunting prospect of winning from behind at the WACA Ground.

Only once in the 47-year history of the iconic venue, which is hosting its last ever Ashes Test, has Australia won when conceding a first-innings deficit.

Day wrap: Smith dominates after England collapse

That was exactly 40 years ago when the hosts, without most of its best players due to the World Series Cricket exodus, fell eight runs short of India’s first-innings total of 402.

But under the captaincy of Bob Simpson, the Australians rallied and chased down 342 to win by two wickets on day five.

Of the other 13 instances Australia have trailed on the first innings in Perth, they’ve lost nine and drawn four.

On the flip side, of the 28 times Australia has held a first-innings lead at the WACA, they’ve won on 23 occasions, drawn three times and lost twice – both defeats coming against South Africa, the latest being last summer’s 117-run defeat.

At stumps on day two in Perth, Australia sit at 3-203, 200 runs adrift of England’s 403, with skipper Steve Smith at the crease unbeaten on 92 and Shaun Marsh at the other end on seven.

Smith rules supreme to roll to WACA fifty

Australia No.3 Usman Khawaja made a composed 50 on Friday and says the match is there for the taking.

"I think the game is evenly poised at the moment,” Khawaja said after play.

"Tomorrow (Saturday) is going to be a big day. We talk about it in golf a lot – third day, moving day – so I think tomorrow will be an interesting day."

'Hard work to do but it's a good wicket': Khawaja

Similarly, history is against England securing just their second ever Test win in Perth; only once in 15 attempts away from home since 1980 have they scored 400 or more having elected to bat first and gone on to win the match.

England were in a commanding position at 4-368 midway through the morning session on day two before a collapse of 6-35, sparked by Nathan Lyon and finished off by the pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, terminated the tourists' innings by lunch.

England wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow, who posted his maiden Ashes century in a record fifth-wicket partnership with Dawid Malan, said the match is in an "interesting state" at stumps.

"They bowled well this morning to get six wickets in a session and they’ve obviously scored 200 runs," Bairstow said on Friday.

'It's an interesting state of play': Bairstow

"Tomorrow (Saturday), when we come to bowl in the morning it’s a huge session for us.

"Those first two sessions we need to try and keep the Aussies behind us for as long as possible because we can nip some wickets and all of a sudden you’ve got the bowlers – (Tim) Paine, Starc, Cummins – coming in against our guys still fresh then it makes a big difference.

"We’ve got the new ball as well (due in 18 overs) and we’ve seen the new ball potentially do a little bit more, especially like we’ve seen this evening with the cracks – it might potentially might change things too.

"I walked out to bat this morning and the crack on the crease was a good half an inch wider than it was when we went to bed last night.

"So, you don’t know what you might see when you walk out there tomorrow."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21