England make cautious start in third Test

Published: Saturday, March 18, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:England batted cautiously to reach 63-1 at lunch on the opening day of the third and final Test against India.

Left-handed opener Andrew Strauss was unbeaten on 35 at the break with debutant Owais Shah (seven) after the tourists were put in to bat at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.

India lead 1-0 in the series following their nine-wicket win in the second Test at Mohali. The first match ended in a draw at Nagpur.

Makeshift opener Ian Bell (18) was the only batsman dismissed when he drove seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth straight to Harbhajan Singh at point after batting patiently for 101 minutes.

Bell opened the innings in place of in-form Alastair Cook who was ruled out of the match due to a stomach ailment. And he did his job as he put on 52 for the opening wicket with Strauss.

India captain Rahul Dravid's decision to field first after winning the toss failed to produce the desired result as none of his seamers could trouble the England openers on a pitch which had bounce.

The hosts went into the match with three pacemen for the first time in the series, but Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel could only succeed in containing runs.

Strauss and Bell took no risks, relying more on singles and twos to keep the scoreboard moving. Only six boundaries came in 25 overs, with Strauss hitting three, Bell two and Shah one.

England earlier suffered a setback when they lost Cook, just a day after strike bowler Steve Harmison was ruled out of the game due to a shin injury.

Cook scored 60 and 104 not out in his debut match at Nagpur.

England made three changes from the side that played at Mohali, bringing in Shah, off-spinner Shaun Udal and fast bowler James Anderson.

The hosts replaced leg-spinner Piyush Chawla with seamer Sreesanth for the only change from the side that won at Mohali.

Dravid became the sixth Indian to figure in 100 Tests after Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Anil Kumble.

Star batsman Tendulkar made his 132nd Test appearance, an Indian record.

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