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Heartening win for England

England managed to sneak a morale-boosting seven-wicket victory over an Australia Invitational XI between the showers at the Sydney Cricket Ground ahead of first Ashes Test.

Michael Carberry, in particular, can head to the Gabba with a spring in his step for his second Test cap after reaching 50 in all three warm-up matches and helping England pass a target of 148 with 16.2 overs to spare but in the nick of time as more rain threatened.

The other notable ‘winners’ included Jonny Bairstow, who took seven catches in the match as the injured Matt Prior’s deputy, doubtless enhancing confidence should England’s first-choice wicketkeeper fail to recover from a calf problem in time for next week.

Boyd Rankin finished with 3-46 and Steven Finn 3-88 as the Invitationals mustered a second-innings 261 all out at lunch.

England then lost Alastair Cook, bowled trying to cut a leg-break from James Muirhead, to be 40 for one when forecast rain arrived and brought an early tea.

But Carberry, who hit 50 and seems assured of adding to his solitary Test cap as Cook's opening partner, dug in admirably.

On a pitch showing significant signs of wear - especially for Muirhead, who found some alarming bounce at times - Carberry's was a telling contribution.

Promoted to open last week in Hobart in preference to Joe Root - who will now almost certainly be deployed in the middle order next week at Brisbane - the left-hander completed his 69-ball half-century with a cover-drive off Muirhead for his eighth four.

He got himself out, without further addition, when he mistimed a pull at the leg-spinner and was caught in the leg-side ring to end a stand of 51 with Jonathan Trott.

Carberry had already put England within striking distance of a first win of the tour after draws in Perth and then rainy Tasmania.

The final straight was not without its complications, however.

Trott would have been run out by 12 yards or more 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.

Moments later, Trott was dropped at slip off Muirhead by Aaron Finch - and then Pietersen played across a straight ball from Chris Tremain to be bowled off his pad.

Trott and Ian Bell ensured, however, that the wobble got no worse, the latter ending proceedings with a straight six just before the heavens opened once more.

After heavy overnight rain, Cook had given Rankin and Finn the first opportunity as the Invitationals resumed on 153 for four on a pitch which had spent several hours under cover again.

The two seamers were unable to take immediate advantage, and it was not until Stuart Broad was summoned that Kurtis Patterson opened the door to England with a poor shot - a front-foot pull at a delivery that was not short enough and bowled the left-hander off an under-edge.

Ryan Carters was joined by Nevill, the partnership which had held England up for 58 overs in the first innings.

This time, they managed only 12 overs before Nevill edged Finn behind on the back foot - and Bairstow, who did little wrong throughout, claimed a low catch.

The wicketkeeper was neat and safe again in the next over when Carters got a thin edge down the leg-side off Graeme Swann.

The second new ball, and Rankin's extra bounce, was too much for Josh Lalor – who, with only eight to his name at number eight, became the first batsman to go for a single-figure score in the innings.

Muirhead was also spooked by Rankin, and Bairstow had another victim behind the stumps with a sharp catch away to his right, before Finn closed out the innings when Tremain holed out to mid-off.

Click here for images from day four.

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