England consolidate position against India


Chennai : England went into the consolidation mode and were comfortably placed at 164 for one in their first innings against India at tea on the opening day of the first RBS Cup cricket Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Thursday.

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Openers Andrew Strauss (93 batting) and Alastair Cook (52) put on 118 runs to lay a solid foundation as England batsmen easily countered the Indian attack on a flat track that offered little encouragement for the bowlers, save the odd delivery that jumped and turned.

At tea, Ian Bell (17 batting), growing in confidence, was keeping Strauss company after comfortably countering all that the Indians hurled at them.

India’s only success so far came just before the drinks break in the post-lunch session when Cook holed out at mid-on top edging an attempted sweep off Harbhajan Singh, who bowled 14 overs unchanged after lunch.

England batsmen revelled in favourable conditions and had few anxious moments, but survived a couple of strong leg-before appeals and also a catch that was turned down after a referral to the third umpire.

It was by no means attractive batting despite the odd boundary hit, but very effective from England’s point of view with a clear intention of staying put and grinding out the runs.

So much so that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was forced to introduce his two part-time bowlers, Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag in a double shuffle just before tea, but Strauss and Bell saw them off to remain unbeaten at tea.

Earlier in the day, Strauss and Cook batted quite solidly against an attack that looked a bit flat.

Fast bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma kept the batsmen on a leash and the runs came in trickles before the England openers pounced on some loose deliveries to get the score moving.

The introduction of spin after eight overs in the form of Harbhajan made little impression on the proceedings.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted for pace at one end with Zaheer and Ishant alternating while Harbhajan and Amit Mishra bowled from the other end.

Earlier, the teams observed two minutes silence in the honour of the victims of the Mumbai.