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Cricinfo: India v England 2008-09
CricinfoCricinfo: India v England 2008-09
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1st Test: India v England at Chennai, Dec 11-15, 2008

Strauss puts England firmly in command

Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss continued his good run in this Test, going past fifty for the second time in the match to dash India's hopes of bowling England out cheaply in the second innings. For a while, it seemed as though the home team was in a position of wresting the initiative from England after taking three quick wickets in the post-tea session, but Strauss and Paul Collingwood batted solidly, adding an unbeaten 129 for the fourth wicket, to stretch their lead to 247 and leave India staring at a daunting target.

India missed a huge opportunity with England on 43 for 3. In the same over that Yuvraj Singh trapped Kevin Pietersen lbw for 1, Strauss, who was on 13, tried to cut a short ball past point but got a thick outside edge that was spilled by Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps. Had he pouched that chance, the story of the day could well have been different. But Strauss made India pay heavily, playing the spinners particularly well and rotating the strike frequently to keep England's run-rate above three an over throughout their innings. He relied extensively on the sweep and the cut to unsettle the spinners.

Batting on the subcontinent is a draining experience, both mentally and physically, so to back up a first-innings century puts Strauss on course for his finest Test. If he converts this start into a second hundred it will surpass Port Elizabeth in 2004-05 when he scored 126 and an unbeaten 94.