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England dodge rain to chase down winning target

cricket Updated: Nov 16, 2013 14:07 IST

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England were trying to beat the rain in a bid to claim the first victory of their Australian tour against the Cricket Australia Invitational XI on the final day on Saturday.

Looking for some winning momentum to take into next week's first Ashes Test against Australia, the tourists were 108 runs from victory at tea with nine wickets intact at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The tourists have one extended session, weather permitting, to chase down the target after they bowled out the home team for 261 to coincide with lunch being taken.

After a less than ideal preparation that included a rain-affected tour match in Hobart, England could take plenty from a win as they embark on a five-Test series against Michael Clarke's Australians.

At tea, England were 40 for one with Michael Carberry not out 18 and Jonathan Trott the incoming batsman.

Captain Alastair Cook was bowled by young legspinner James Muirhead for 21.

England's bowling hasn't been entirely convincing at times in this match but there have been some encouraging spells throughout the encounter to go with a strong batting performance.

With a fast bowling spot up for grabs at the Gabba, contenders Steven Finn (3-88) and Boyd Rankin (3-46) both pressed their case.

Finn took eight wickets for the match, but it may to be to no avail, with Chris Tremlett likely to partner James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Test star Broad warmed up for Brisbane with two second-innings wickets to go with four in the first innings.

Spinner Graeme Swann got in 27 overs in the second innings and finished with two for 69.

The Invitational XI resumed on Saturday at 153 for four representing a lead of 39 runs.

After putting on a century partnership for the sixth wicket in the first innings, wicketkeeper and captain Peter Nevill and young batsman Ryan Carters combined in a stand of 42 runs.

The pair started strongly on day four, but fell within the space of two runs, Nevill edging behind for 11 and Carters strangled down the leg-side for 40.

Back-up wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took seven catches for the match as he stands by in case Matt Prior is ruled out of the first Test with a calf strain.

Bairstow took an outstanding high catch going to his right to nab Muirhead off Rankin.

England have drawn the opening two tour games in Perth and Hobart, but last week's four-dayer against Australia A had two entire days washed out.

The first Test gets underway in Brisbane on Thursday.