New Delhi:Andrew Strauss's knock of 123 runs took England's total to 229 runs for the loss of five wickets at the end of the first day's play against India in Chennai. No other England batsman, except Alastair Cook, could contribute much with the bat and had it not been for the opening duo of Strauss and Cook, England would have been in deep trouble.
Strauss played a splendid knock to raise 13th Test hundred, his second against India with the help of 15 fours. He also completed 4000 Test runs. Strauss kept one end intact for England since Thursday morning and frustrated the Indian bowlers with his impressive stroke play. He was finally removed by leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who took a return catch to put an end to his brilliant innings.
Earlier electing to bat first, England openers Strauss and Cook (52) gave a solid start and added 118 runs for the first wicket. He completed 15th Test fifty, his third against the hosts. Harbhajan gave India the first breakthrough in the form of Cook's wicket as the opener collected a delivery going outside the off-stump to play the slog sweep. He failed to time it and Zaheer, standing at mid-on, made no mistake to get under it. After his dismissal, England kept losing wickets from one end.
Paul Collingwood fell as off-spinner's second victim after Bhajji pitched one in the line and the ball hit his pad before deflecting towards Gautam Gambhir at short leg. He made just 9 runs to add 15 runs for the fourth wicket with Strauss.
While Cook and Collingwood fell to Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan dismissed Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen. Post-tea, Zaheer caught Bell plumb in front of the wicket for 17 runs to see him off the field. Bell added 46 runs for the second wicket with Strauss before the fast bowler swung in the ball that rapped him on the front pad. Zaheer soon fetched India the prized wicket of England skipper Kevin Pietersen. He incited KP with a short stuff who failed to pull it neatly and the bowler took the catch on the on side.
Before the match commenced, the two teams observed one-minute silence to pay their homage to the Mumbai terror victims.
India took the field without the two stalwarts - Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly - and that gave players like Yuvraj Singh and Amit Mishra an opportunity to cement their place in the side.
A series win will put India back on the second spot in the ICC Test rankings. Currently they are third, positioned behind Australia and South Africa.
India: MS Dhoni (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma.
England: Kevin Pietersen (c), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Prior(w), Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Stephen Harmison, Monty Panesar.