India bounces back after Strauss ton

Published: Thursday, December 11, 2008, 17:10 [IST]
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India wrest advantage, Eng 229/5

Chennai: Andrew Strauss" fighting century took England into stumps at 229-5 on day one of the first Test match of the Test Series against hosts India at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai today.

Andrew Flintoff on 18 and night watchman James Anderson (2) were the unbeaten batsmen at the crease when stumps were drawn.

England collapsed from 164-1 at one stage to 229-5 at stumps thanks largely to a devastating spell by India strike bowler Zaheer Khan.

He dismissed Bell and Pietersen in quick succession that helped India to bounce back to the game. Zaheer was ably supported by Harbhajan Singh (2-67), Amit Mishra (1-63), Ishant Sharma (0-29) and even the part-timers on a placid surface that had absolutely nothing in the offing for the bowlers.

It was Strauss, who, with his 13th Test century, had held the innings together for England. Strauss' innings spanned nearly six hours, included 15 boundaries, and was a triumph of determination over adversity after he was denied any meaningful match practice in the build-up by the tourists' decision to return home in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai.


It was the perfect boost for England following the distractions of being asked to consider safety and security reports in the build-up with Strauss and Cook responding to the good fortune superbly.

The pitch offered so little encouragement to India's seamers that captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned to the left-arm spin of Harbhajan Singh after just 37 minutes play without providing any greater threat to England's opening stand.

But just three overs after reaching his half-century, Cook's hopes of claiming a hundred ended when he attempted a slog-sweep against Harbhajan, a shot which had proved very successful for both openers during their stand spanning 40 overs.

Cook mis-timed the shot on this occasion and looped the ball high in the air for Zaheer Khan to collect the catch at mid-on for 52 - the 15th time in his Test career he had passed 50 without going on to score a century.

Ian Bell kept Strauss company for 50 minutes until the tea interval, but became the first to perish during a stunning spell of 6-3-12-2 from Zaheer, walking across his stumps to fall lbw to the second ball after the interval.

Strauss survived several close shaves to complete his century seven overs after tea, guiding Zaheer to the third man boundary before punching the air with delight at reaching the milestone.

His joy was short-lived, however, with Pietersen giving a return catch in Zaheer's next over after he mis-timed an attempted pull high in the air.

But Paul Collingwood had perhaps the most reason to feel aggrieved after being wrongly given out by umpire Billy Bowden for a catch at short leg off Harbhajan which clearly came off his pad.

Only seven overs before the close, Strauss' innings was halted by emerging leg-spinner Amit Mishra when he offered a return catch to a flighted delivery.

Nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson survived 25 minutes until the close but England ended the day knowing India's fightback had denied them the chance to dominate the opening day.


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