NZ Invitational XI v England XI, Dunedin, 1st day February 25, 2008

Cook and Shah boost England XI

Cricinfo staff

England XI 369 (Shah 96, Cook 87, Bell 59) v New Zealand Invitational XI

Owais Shah on his way to 96 © Getty Images
Owais Shah boosted his chances of a Test recall after impressing in England's warm-up match against an Invitational XI in the lead-up to the start of the three-match series against New Zealand.

Shah top-scored with 96 out of the England XI's 369, with Alastair Cook's 87 and 59 from Ian Bell, before he retired hurt, being the other contributions of note after the New Zealand Invitation XI - fielding five member's of New Zealand's last Test line-up - put them in at Dunedin's University Oval.

Shah made the most of a dropped catch when on 38 and hit 14 fours and a six. Cook built on his two half-centuries during the one-day series loss to the hosts with a polished innings and Bell's was also a timely contribution. Andrew Strauss, Shah's Middlesex team-mate, could only manage 4 in his bid for a Test comeback before he hit his own stumps while trying to deflect the ball away. Strauss and Shah are both vying for a spot in the side.

England next play a Select XI in the three-day match starting on Thursday, their last warm-up match before next week's opening Test, and Shah hoped his innings put him in good stead.

"It didn't quite happen for me with getting to three figures, but I was reasonably happy with the way I struck the ball so I can't complain," he said. "It's important to get a good start, impress the selectors, the captain and the coach and try and put some runs on the board so I can put my name in the hat for selection for the first Test."

For the home side seamer Mark Gillespie, who played a sole Test before a shoulder injury ruled him out of action, took 3 for 93 and William Somerville, a young offspinner, finished with 3 for 73.

The game is one of two warm-ups for England in Dunedin ahead of the first Test in Hamilton starting on March 5.