Preview: Pietersen set to prove fitness ahead of Ashes

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England face an Australian Invitational XI at Sydney Cricket Ground this evening with Kevin Pietersen expected to join stand-in wicket keeper Jonny Bairstow in the tourist's side.

Pietersen has proved his fitness this week after flying to Sydney via Melbourne at the weekend to receive a cortisone injection in his troublesome right knee. The destructive batsman played his first game of the tour in Hobart last week where he felt some pain in the same knee which forced him to leave the tour of New Zealand earlier this year.

England’s other concern leading into the opening Test Match which starts on Thursday 21st November is over Matt Prior and he will not play at the SCG after suffering a low-grade tear to his calf in the game last week. That led to Joe Root donning the wicket keeping gloves on a temporary basis but his Yorkshire teammate Bairstow will deputise in the final warm-up game.

The four-day match will be even more crucial after large parts of the game in Tasmania was washed out as Michael Carberry is once again set to open with captain Alastair Cook. The openers both went past 150 before retiring with the Hampshire batsman almost secured his place at the top of the order for the Ashes.

Ian Bell comes back into the fold after his century agsinst the Western Australia Chairman’s XI and replaces Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance who is set to miss out on selection for the Test series along with all-rounder Ben Stokes.

James Anderson is given a chance to rest after appearing in both tour games to date with two of Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn likely to fight it out for the final bowling spot in Andy Flower’s team.

The fixture gives a first chance of the tour for Bairstow to impress after he’d been left frustrated in the opening weeks in Australia by not being selected to stake a claim for the number six spot in the batting line-up.

The batsman played in the first four Ashes Tests of the summer before beig left out in favour of all-rounder Chris Woakes. The 24-year-old then returned to his county and kept wicket which led to selection to the current tour and with vice-captain Prior a doubt for Brisbane it is important Bairstow gains valuable time both in front and behind the stumps.

The match gets under way at 11.30pm GMT and GiveMeSport will have a review of the days play on Wednesday morning.

England from: Cook (Captain), Carberry, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Root, Bairstow (wkt), Broad, Swann, Finn, Tremlett, Rankin.

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The Ashes
Jonny Bairstow
England cricket
Kevin Pietersen

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