TOWNVILLE: Dawid Malan became England’s second century-maker as the tourists built a big lead over Cricket Australia XI in the final Ashes warm-up game in Townsville on Friday.
The Middlesex left-hander converted his overnight 57 into 109 as England amassed a first innings of 515 against the inexperienced local side.
By stumps on the penultimate day, the CA XI were 144 runs behind at 121 for three in their second innings, with Jason Sangha on 26 and skipper Matt Short not out eight.
Joe Root’s side, also buoyed by Mark Stoneman’s 111 on Thursday, are in firm control and closing in on a big win on Saturday’s final day ahead of next Thursday’s first Test against Australia.
But apart from Malan’s ton England’s lower order fell away losing five wickets for 38 before a last-wicket stand of 58 between Chris Woakes (36) and Mason Crane (25 not out) took the tourists past 500.
Malan played some crisp cover drives and clips off the pads on the way to his 19th first-class century.
But Malan’s slow response to Moeen Ali’s call left him short of his crease when he failed to beat Jake Carder’s throw from short fine leg.
Root, who began the day on 62, looked set for a hundred as well until he was brilliantly caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen off paceman Simon Milenko for 83.
Jonny Bairstow was out to a full toss from leg-spinner Daniel Fallins for 19, but Moeen and Overton went cheaply, both falling to consecutive deliveries from off-spinner Matt Short.
Stuart Broad was caught sweeping for 10, before Woakes and Crane combined to embellish England’s total.
Off-spinner Moeen, having recovered from a side strain, had Carder caught at slip and bowled Ryan Gibson in the CA XI’s second innings.
When leg-spinner Crane enticed Will Pucovski to edge to slip, it left the tourists with seven wickets to take on the final day.