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Khawaja fluffs Ashes audition, England tour match drawn

Australia's Usman Khawaja leaves the field after being dismissed during the fourth Ashes cricket test match against England at the Riverside
Australia's Usman Khawaja leaves the field after being dismissed during the fourth Ashes cricket test match against England at the Riverside

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Usman Khawaja fluffed his Ashes audition with a soft dismissal for just three runs as England's rain-disrupted tour match against Australia A in Hobart ended in a draw on Saturday.

England will be satisfied with unbeaten 150s for skipper Alastair Cook and his opening partner Michael Carberry and a few overs at the end of the fourth and final day for their top bowlers James Anderson and Graeme Swann.

The tourists declared on 430 for seven when Stuart Broad was caught on the boundary, leaving Joe Root unbeaten on 58, and Australia A had made 119 for three when the rain descended to bring an end to proceedings at Bellerive Oval.

Batsmen Khawaja, Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh were hoping for a chance to impress the Australian selectors three days before the squad for the opening test is named and enjoyed varying degrees of success when they finally got their chance.

Khawaja played three of the five tests in the first Ashes series of the year, which England won 3-0, but was dumped for the final match after managing to average 19 runs over six innings.

Any hope of a recall probably vanished when he left his bat hanging in the air in the face of an Anderson delivery and Root, standing in for Matt Prior behind the wickets, snaffled the catch. Prior left field with a tight left calf.

Anderson had earlier bowled Doolan for 31 and the England paceman finished with 2-20 from his seven overs. Off-spinner Swann (1-27) took the other wicket.

Marsh, who made 27 from 65 balls, and Callum Ferguson (15) were at the crease when the weather intervened for the final time.

Australia's need for a band of healthy batsmen in reserve, though, lessened a little when coach Darren Lehmann said there was growing confidence all-rounder Shane Watson would be fit for the opening test.

Watson missed the 2006-7 Ashes series with one of string of hamstring injuries that have afflicted him over his career and sustained another in the series-deciding one-day loss in India last week.

"The reports from our medical team on Shane's recovery from injury are pleasing," said Lehmann without elaborating whether the all-rounder would be able to resume bowling.

"He is making good progress and responding well to treatment. If that continues, we have confidence that he will be fit for the first test."

England batsman Kevin Pietersen was the first wicket to fall in the match after Cook (154) and Carberry (153) retired to give their team mates some batting practice.

Pietersen had made eight runs when a low delivery from Trent Copeland trapped him leg before wicket and Jonathan Trott followed him back to the pavilion soon afterwards with just four runs to his name.

England play one more tour match against a New South Wales Invitational XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground next week before the first test begins in Brisbane on November 21.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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