Taunton: Andrew Strauss warmed up for next week's first Test by taking the early honours at the start of the head-to-head with Zaheer Khan on his guest appearance for Somerset and Arul Suppiah hit an unbeaten 145 as India were made to toil at Taunton. He and Suppiah added 101 for the first wicket before Suppiah and Nick Compton put on 223 between two stoppages for rain to take the home side to an imposing 329 for 2.
Strauss struck 11 boundaries in bringing up his half century from a sprightly 63 balls. All his shots were in good working order as he drove, pulled and glanced his way into form ahead of Lord's next week. He did have a couple of close shaves; firstly on 20 when Zaheer had a big lbw shout turned down by Graham Lloyd and then on 64 when Wriddhiman Saha, the reserve wicketkeeper playing in place of the rested MS Dhoni, dropped an edge off Amit Mishra. However, the keeper took the next chance when an edge bobbled off the pad and looped in the air as Strauss departed for 78. In the context of the runs that followed he missed out.
The loan deal for Strauss has provoked debate, both about the whether the structure of domestic cricket does all it can to help the England team, and also what Somerset are gaining from the move. Despite coming off a four-day Championship match the county fielded a number of first-team regulars, including England Lions captain James Hildreth, and somebody has sat out to let Strauss play. However, he received a warm ovation as he left the field following his innings and, wearing his Somerset kit, appeared to have been adopted at least for the day.