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Cricket: England's seven wicket win tonic for Ashes opener

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

England tuned up for next week's Ashes series opener with a comfortable seven-wicket victory over the Cricket Australia Invitational XI in Sydney on Saturday.

The tourists dodged showers to claim their first win on their Australian tour ahead of the first of five Tests against Michael Clarke's Australians in Brisbane on Thursday.

Opener Michael Carberry scored 50 off 71 balls to cement his claims for a second Test cap after reaching half-centuries in all three warm-up matches and helping England pass a target of 148 with 16.2 overs to spare and just before the onset of heavy rain.

England lost the wickets of skipper Alastair Cook (21), Carberry and Kevin Pietersen (6) in their pursuit of the winning target with Ian Bell hitting the winning runs to remain 33 not out off 30 balls and Jonathan Trott unbeaten on 38.

There were plenty of positives for England ahead of the opening Ashes Test with backup wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow taking seven catches in the match and proving himself ready to take over from Matt Prior should the the first-choice gloveman fail to recover from a torn calf in time for the Brisbane Test.

Boyd Rankin finished with three for 46 and Steven Finn three for 88 in the Invitational XI's second-innings 261 all out at lunch.

Cook was bowled trying to cut a leg-break from James Muirhead, while Carberry completed his 69-ball half-century with a cover-drive off Muirhead.

Carberry was out soon after when he mistimed a pull shot at the leg-spinner and was caught to end a stand of 51 with Trott.

Trott was fortunate when he should have been run out on 17 had wicketkeeper Peter Nevill's shy at one stump hit the target after Kevin Pietersen set off for a single off Muirhead to short square-leg.

Trott was then dropped at slip off Muirhead by Aaron Finch before Pietersen played across paceman Chris Tremain and was bowled off his pad.

Trott and Bell ensured a smooth passage to victory with Bell hitting a straight six and then a glided four through the slips cordon for the winning runs.

England's bowling was not entirely convincing at times in the match with a fast bowling spot up for grabs at the Gabba.

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.

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.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131116/cricket-englands-seven-wicket-win-tonic-ashes-opener