Opener Aaron Finch hit 59 runs from 60 balls as the Cricket Australia Invitational XI reached 153-4 on Friday for a lead of 39 runs over England heading into the last day of the visitors’ final match before the start of next Thursday’s first Ashes test at Brisbane.

Stuart Broad, Boyd Rankin, Graeme Swann and Finn took a wicket each at the Sydney Cricket Ground, after Joe Root earlier posted 75 with the bat to power England’s first-innings total to 418; a 114-run lead on first innings.

Root was hit on the right hand by a delivery and was treated by the team’s medical staff.

Jonathan Trott led England with 83 runs while Alastair Cook added 81 and Kevin Pietersen 57. Legspinner James Muirhead took four wickets for the Invitational side.

In Ashes injury news, England wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who has a left calf strain, will undergo a rigorous training session in Brisbane on Tuesday in order to be passed fit for the first test. England medical staff have been treating the injury daily since Prior strained it in Hobart last week.

The 31-year-old Prior completed a half-hour session at the SCG nets on Friday, working on his lateral movement, getting forward and back and side to side.

The veteran of three successive Ashes triumphs, Prior has been posting photos on Twitter of him undergoing acupuncture and icing his calf for extended periods.

And in Brisbane, Australia batting coach Michael Di Venuto said Shane Watson would be given until the last minute to prove he could be used as an all-rounder in the Gabba opener next week.

Watson cruised through the team’s first training session in Brisbane, stretching out his troublesome left hamstring in jogging drills before a lengthy net session.

Watson did not bowl, but Di Venuto was not concerned.

“That’s part of the plan, it’s a slow build-up for him. He’s still a week away from the first test,” he said. “But he is a world-class batsman. If we have to we will just use him as that.”


Broad takes 5 wickets; Australia 273 for 8November 21, 2013

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