5 Ashes talking points as Khawaja scores another ton to leave Australia on top

Usman Khawaja notched his second century of the match as Australia pressed home their advantage on day four of the fourth Ashes Test.

Recalled after a two-year absence, Khawaja has made the most of his opportunity, scoring two outstanding tons in Sydney to leave his side on the verge of another win despite England's fightback on day three.

After resuming on 258-7, England only added a further 36 runs as Australia swiftly picked up their final three wickets.

Jack Leach was the first to fall, slog sweeping Nathan Lyon straight to mid-on for 10.

Jonny Bairstow, who was nursing an injury after getting hit on the thumb on day three, only added ten more runs to his overnight score before he was caught behind off Scott Boland for 113.

Boland then picked up his fourth wicket, getting Stuart Broad caught behind for 15 as England were bowled out for 294.

In response, Australia steadily built on their already sizeable first innings lead of 122, although England were able to pick up wickets at regular intervals.

Mark Wood made the first breakthrough, getting David Warner caught behind for just three, while Leach got Marcus Harris for 27.

On both occasions, stand-in wicketkeeper Ollie Pope took smart catches, leaving Australia 56-2 with both their openers gone.

Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith both fell after lunch, with Wood and Leach once again picking up the wickets.

Khawaja and Cameron Green then shared a massive partnership of 179 to drive Australia to a lead of 387.

Khawaja was outstanding as he made 101 not out, while Green was able to make his first real contribution with the bat this series.

The young all-rounder scored 74 before he spooned a catch to Joe Root off Leach.

The England spinner then got Alex Carey caught behind for a golden duck to finish with figures of 4-84 as Australia decided to declare on 265-6.

Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed were then tasked with navigating a nervy 11 over spell before the close and the pair managed to stay in, sharing England's highest opening partnership of the series so far as they reach 30-0.

England now need to survive the final day in order to end Australia's chances of completing a 5-0 whitewash.

Here are five talking points from the day's play.

Boland continues to break records

Boland claimed two of the remaining three English wickets on day four to end with figures of 4-36, continuing his remarkable start to Test cricket.

Having picked up match figures of 7-55 on debut in Melbourne, including 6-7 in the second innings, Boland has now taken 11 Test wickets at an average of just 8.27.

No bowler in Test history has taken more at a better average.

Speaking on Fox Cricket, former Australia international Kerry O'Keeffe said: "It sends a message to every medium pacer around Australia.

"If you work to get a command of line and length and accuracy and just a little bit off the seam, you can wear a baggy green, you can play for you country.

"Even know you’re 128kph or 130kph… whatever road blocks are in front of you, disregard them because you could be Scotty Boland."

Pope keeps wicket with Buttler and Bairstow injured

Despite having two wicketkeepers in the side, injuries forced Pope to deputise behind the stumps in Australia's second innings.

Buttler took a blow to his left index finger while keeping on day two, while Bairstow suffered a thumb injury while batting on day three.

As a result of their respective injuries, neither player took to the field on day four as Pope filled in as substitute keeper.

It marked the second time Pope has kept wicket for England in Test cricket, having done so against New Zealand in 2019.

The 24-year-old gave a good account of himself behind the stumps, taking a total of four catches.

"Pope has been very, very impressive," former Australia captain Ian Chappell told BBC Test Match Special.

"It's not just his glovework but his footwork has been excellent. I don't recall him hitting the deck at all, whereas Buttler was on the floor a lot of the time taking the ball."

Sam Billings has been drafted into the squad as cover for the final Test, with England awaiting the results of scans on Buttler and Bairstow.

Wood vs Labuschagne

Wood has bowled very well without much reward in this series, with match figures of 3-89 in Brisbane and 2-71 in Melbourne not much to write home about.

He only picked up one wicket in the first innings of this Test, ending with 1-76, but he has found some success against Labuschagne.

Since the 27-year-old became the number one ranked Test batter in the world, Wood has dismissed him three times in 24 balls, getting him caught behind in both innings in Sydney.

Wood also got Warner caught behind with a 91mph rocket in his first over, but ended up with figures of 2-65 from 15 overs as Ben Stokes ' inability to bowl took its toll.

Harris' Ashes over?

Despite making an important 76 in the Boxing Day Test, Harris has been unable to kick on in Sydney.

The 29-year-old has made scores of 38 and 27 and averages just 29.83 in the series and 24.64 in his Test career.

Harris may well find himself dropped for the final Test in Hobart now, with Travis Head ready to return after testing positive for Covid and Khawaja making two tons in Sydney.

Head averages an impressive 62.00 in this series and is expected to slot straight back into the middle order, while Khawaja could be promoted up to open.

The 35-year-old has opened in seven Test innings for Australia and averages an outstanding 96.80, having scored two hundreds and two fifties.

Speaking on BT Sport, former England captain Alastair Cook said: "Not the greatest shot in terms of execution. He'll be kicking himself because there's pretty easy runs [on offer].

"You don't often get those situations as an opening batsman playing for your place when the guy who's come in [Khawaja] has made a hundred.

"I don't think we'll see Harris in the next Test match."

Back-to-back tons for Khawaja

Having come to the crease after Labuschagne was dismissed with his side 68-3, Khawaja picked up where he left off in the first innings and scored another imperious hundred.

Sharing a 179-run partnership with Green, Khawaja helped push Australia's lead up to 387 as he made 101 not out.

Having only been afforded the opportunity due to Head's positive Covid test, Khawaja has certainly made the most of it and will surely play in the final Test in Hobart.

Khawaja became just the third player to score two tons in a Test at the SCG, joining Doug Walters and Ricky Ponting on an exclusive list.

Speaking on BBC Test Match Special, former England bowler Steven Finn said: "It was a phenomenal innings from Usman Khawaja again. He thoroughly deserves his century.

"You'd be a very brave man to drop him for the next Test now. What on earth are Australia going to do?!"

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