Alex Hales and Luke Wright helped England set Australia a competitive 172 for six on a stodgy pitch in their ICC World Twenty20 warm-up match at Nondescripts CC.

Hales (52) continued to fare well in his role as the controversially absent Kevin Pietersen's replacement at the top of the order, while Wright contributed 35.

Defending champions England were playing their first practice fixture of a tournament which will begin in earnest for them against minnows Afghanistan at the nearby Premadasa Stadium on Friday.

Hales might have been run out on three, had David Warner managed a direct hit from point; the tall opener also offered a tough half-chance to diving wicketkeeper Matthew Wade on 21 off Dan Christian, and escaped a feasible stumping off veteran spinner Brad Hogg on 34.

But he was responsible for England's early momentum, once he found the boundary in the fifth over - the first of three fours in four balls off Clint McKay.

Hales' opening partner Craig Kieswetter went soon afterwards, mistiming an attempted big hit to deep mid-off, and Australia contributed to England's total with a succession of early wides - one of which, from Mitchell Starc, swung past the wicketkeeper and sped to the boundary.

Hales and Wright shared a second-wicket stand of 88.

Even though George Bailey tried to put the squeeze on by chopping and changing his bowlers, Wright upped the ante with two reverse-hit fours and England's first six over mid-wicket off Hogg to bring up the hundred - only to fall to the last ball of the same over when he picked out deep square leg.

Hales completed his half-century in 36 balls, but clipped Hogg to mid-wicket to go soon afterwards. But with Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow's expert hitting and placement still to come, England were assured of a total which ought at the very least test their high-profile opposition.