Pietersen dispels fitness fears with 50

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Kevin Pietersen proved his fitness for next week's Ashes opener with a breezy half-century as England closed on the Cricket Australia Invitational XI's first innings total in their tour game Thursday.

Pietersen, who had a cortisone injection for a troublesome knee earlier this week, cracked 57 runs off 71 balls as he tuned up for his 100th Test starting in Brisbane on November 21.

Jonathan Trott (83) and skipper Alastair Cook (81) also spent valuable batting time in the middle, as England's top order fine-tuned for the first Test at the Gabba, reaching 302 for five at the close on the second day of the four-day tour match in Sydney.

At stumps, Joe Root was 26 not out and Jonny Bairstow was unbeaten on 11.

England trailed by just two runs on the first innings after Steven Finn earlier staked his claim for the first Test fast bowling vacancy, finishing with five wickets for 103 to help dismiss the home side for 304 midway through the first session.

Trott and Cook have both already posted first-class hundreds on tour, and the pair looked on track to do it again as they piled on an effortless 143-run stand after opener Michael Carberry (4) had fallen early.

But Trott edged one behind to give Josh Lalor (2-82) a second wicket, and keeper Peter Nevill a second diving catch. Cook departed a short time later. Ian Bell, coming off an outstanding Ashes series in England in July-August, was out edging Muirhead to Ben Rohrer at slip for 35 off 45 balls. The Invitational side, resuming at 271 for five, lost Ryan Carters on the first ball. of the day for 94.AFP



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