Lions openers hold firm against Australia

WORCESTER: Australia failed to make a breakthrough against an inexperienced England Lions opening pair after being dismissed for 358 on the second morning here at New Road on Thursday.

The Lions, England's A side, reached the interval on 64 without loss in what was Australia's final match before next week's first Ashes Test in Cardiff.

Kent's 23-year-old batsman Joe Denly was 25 not out and Worcestershire's Stephen Moore, on his home ground, was unbeaten on 32.

All eyes were on Brett Lee, who impressed opening the bowling with Mitchell Johnson in a pacy spell of no wickets for seven runs in five overs.

With Johnson (none for 32) and Peter Siddle, rested in this final warm-up match, assured of their Test places, Lee displayed great strength, reaching speeds of 93mph and showing no sign of the no ball problems which plagued him during the drawn tour opener at Sussex.

The 32-year-old New South Wales paceman, who missed Australia's South Africa tour this year following ankle surgery, saw a convincing appeal for lbw against Moore turned down from his opening ball, then crashed a short-pitched delivery into Denly's back as he took evasive action.

However, the Lions duo grew in confidence with Moore stroking successive boundaries off slow bowler Nathan Hauritz to bring up the half-century stand.

Lee's challenger for the third quick berth, Stuart Clark, returned figures of none for six from four overs.

Australia earlier added another 21 to their overnight total, with Michael Hussey reaching 150 before Stephen Harmison (4-80) cleaned up his off-stump with a slower delivery to add to his Wednesday wickets of Phillip Hughes, Simon Katich and Lee.

Test hopeful Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan took three wickets apiece ahead of the Ashes opener which starts at Cardiff's Sophia Gardens on Wednesday.