Cricinfo: India v England 2005-06
CricinfoIndia v England 2005-06

3rd Test (Day 1, March 18, 2006): India v England at Mumbai, 18 - 22 March 2006
Spirited Strauss gives England hope

Just hours to go for the the third Test in Mumbai, a game they have to win to salvage a draw in the series, and the news couldn't have been worse for England. Steve Harmison, their premier paceman, was ruled out of the match having aggravated a sore shin and their batting line-up, already missing Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick, was further depleted with Alastair Cook, who had scored a fifty and a century at Nagpur, down with a stomach bug.

With Ian Bell going in as makeshift opener and Owais Shah drafted in as No.3 in his debut Test, England needed Andrew Strauss to deliver. And did he? Strauss hadn.t crossed fifty since his century against Australia at the Oval in September 2005. He totaled 44 runs from two Tests in Pakistan and frittered away starts in Nagpur and Mohali with needless wafts that resulted in catches behind the wicket.

Today, however, Strauss buckled down and cut down on the wide swipes outside off stump. He took advantage of the full length on offer, as the bowlers searched for swing, and drove straight and through the off side to find his groove. He picked runs off Irfan Pathan with ease, clipping him through midwicket when he strayed down leg side, and flaying him through coverpoint when he overcompensated and bowled wide. At the end of his innings, Strauss had taken 39 runs off 48 balls from Pathan.

He played the spinners comfortably . Harbhajan Singh.s first ball was rocketed to the point fence . and even pulled Anil Kumble for the only six in his innings. Munaf Patel was the only bowler who tested him during a fiery spell but once Strauss weathered that storm, he picked up momentum with ferocious pulls and trademark cut shots. The trying heat claimed Owais Shah, dehydrated at tea, but Strauss marched on, building England.s advantage.

On 92, Strauss slashed at one from Harbhajan and, moments later, Dravid had a dropped catch to regret along with his decision to insert England on what Strauss showed to be a splendid batting track. The very next ball, he creamed to the midwicket fence to bring up his first hundred on the subcontinent.

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