Strauss shines for England

Mumbai, March 18:

Andrew Strauss returned to form with an elegant century as England made the most of India’s surprise decision of electing to field first in the third and final Test today.

Strauss scored 128, his eighth Test hundred, as England posted an impressive 272-3 at stumps. Captain Andrew Flintoff was unbeaten on 17 with Paul Collingwood (11). India captain Rahul Dravid, playing his 100th Test, elected to field, only to see his bowlers struggle on a good batting track.

The hosts could grab just one wicket in the first two sessions and two in the last, with seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth finishing with 2-51 and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh with 1-68.

Strauss received valuable support from Owais Shah who scored 50 on debut.

Shah added 106 for the second wicket with Strauss before retiring hurt with cramps in his hands.

Dravid’s hopes of getting a couple of early wickets were shattered by makeshift opener Ian Bell (18) and Strauss, who put on 52 runs.

India could dismiss only Bell in the morning session. He batted patiently before falling being caught by Harbhajan at point off Sreesanth.

Strauss and Shah showed there was little in the track for seamers and spinners as they continued to gather runs comfortably. There was more frustration for Dravid who dropped Strauss on 92 at lone slip off Harbhajan.

Strauss completed his century off the next delivery when he firmly swept for his 12th four. Sachin Tendulkar made his 132nd Test appearance, an Indian record.


ENGLAND — 1st Innings

A Strauss c Dhoni b Harbhajan 128

I Bell c Harbhajan b Sreesanth 18

O Shah ret hurt 50

K Pietersen c Dhoni b Sreesanth 39

P Collingwood not out 11

A Flintoff not out 17

Extras: 9 (b3, lb3, nb2, w1)

Total: 272/3

FoW: 1-52, 2-230, 3-242

India bowling: Pathan 11-1-53-0, Sreesanth 17-4-51-2, Patel 18-3-45-0, Kumble 23-5-49-0, Harbhajan 20-3-68-1