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Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 19:04 UK

North ton puts Australia on top

England Lions 352 v Australia 358 & 276-4 (day three, stumps)
Venue: New Road, Worcester Dates: 1-4 July
Match scorecard

Marcus North hits with the spin against Adil Rashid
North made just 12 runs in two innings against Sussex

Marcus North hit a morale-boosting 106 not out as Australia extended their lead against the England Lions to 282 at stumps on day three at Worcester.

North put on 170 runs with Michael Clarke (80) as the tourists recovered to 276-4 after Steve Harmison (2-36) had reduced them to 41-2.

Earlier, Adil Rashid made a composed 66 as the Lions ended on 352, six runs behind Australia's first-innings total.

Brett Lee added a further wicket to finish with impressive figures of 6-76.

North had endured a miserable time with the bat in Australia's previous warm-up match against Sussex, scoring just one and 11.

However, he capitalised on his promotion up the order after Harmison had once again impressed with the new ball.

It was an opportunity to get out there while the ball was still hard and to get a few rewards

Marcus North

The Durham seamer dismissed Phillip Hughes (eight) for the second time in the match in similar circumstances to the first innings.

Bowling from around the wicket, Harmison extracted exaggerated bounce from the placid pitch, forcing Hughes to take evasive action.

But the left-hander failed to drop his gloves in time and looped a simple catch into the hands of Joe Denly at second slip.

Ricky Ponting (15), in need of quality time in the middle, followed soon after, tentatively driving a ball outside off stump straight at Rashid at gully.

yorker_129-7 (Run Out (Sub (Pratt))

With Mike Hussey finding form in the first innings, the captain's dismissal brought North to the crease.

And the Western Australian made the most of the benign pitch to bolster his ailing confidence ahead of the first Test in Cardiff on Wednesday.

"Ricky Ponting pushed me up the order to number four and it was an opportunity to get out there while the ball was still hard and to get a few rewards," he said.

"With the Test match only around the corner, and myself not performing as well as I would have liked, it is a pretty important hundred for me.

"It is nice to spend a few hours in the middle leading up to Cardiff and hopefully that puts me at the front of selection."

Although he lost Simon Katich for 37, he found admirable support from Clarke, whose innings was packed with expansive strokeplay.

The vice-captain's exuberance eventually contributed to his downfall as he chipped Vikram Solanki's part-time off-spin into the hands of Graham Onions at long-on.

Clarke said the New Road wicket would be similar to the surface they are likely to encounter at the Swalec Stadium next week.

"But it was very similar to the conditions we expect in Cardiff and it was pretty good to get similar match practice in," said the 28-year-old.

"It looks like there are going to be some grinding out hours during the Test match. It was nice to get tested today and hopefully it will stand us in good stead for next week."

North, playing a series of subtle late cuts and flicks off both the seamers and spinners, brought up his century from 168 deliveries.

The Lions began the day on 302-6 and soon lost Tim Bresnan, playing on to a Mitchell Johnson delivery outside off stump.

Mahmood became Lee's sixth victim as he attempted to fend away a short delivery at the body, but the ball ricocheted on to the stumps.

However, Rashid found doughty support with Steve Harmison and raised his half century with a glorious off drive through the covers.

It took a fine catch at gully from Hughes off Stuart Clark to finally dislodge him from the crease, ending his 107-ball vigil, with Onions falling soon after.

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see also
Ashes warm-up photos
04 Jul 09 |  England
Lee shines but Australia struggle
02 Jul 09 |  Australia
Anderson puts England in command
02 Jul 09 |  England
Hussey ton helps Aussies recover
01 Jul 09 |  Australia
Harmison detects Aussie weakness
02 Jul 09 |  England
Clarke hardened by 2005 struggle
01 Jul 09 |  Australia
Siddle benefits from coach Cooley
29 Jun 09 |  Australia
Hopkinson ton frustrates Aussies
27 Jun 09 |  Australia
Injured Watson stays with Aussies
24 Jun 09 |  Australia
England omit Vaughan and Harmison
22 Jun 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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