Strauss century pilots England to 258-2

Andrew Strauss's third century in three Tests led England to 258-2 against West Indies on day one of the fifth and final Test at Queen's Park Oval.

updated: March 07, 2009 18:53 IST
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Captain Andrew Strauss's third century in three Tests led England to 258-2 against West Indies on day one Friday of the fifth and final cricket Test at Queen's Park Oval.

Strauss, who won the toss, batted through the day for an unbeaten 138, his 17th Test century. He cracked 11 fours off 261 deliveries in just under six hours.

Paul Collingwood added an enterprising 54 not out off 123 balls as he and his captain shared an unbroken partnership of 102 in the final session.

Strauss and Owais Shah set the anchor for the visitors, who are chasing a series-leveling victory, with a second-wicket stand of 107 which ended only when Shah retired hurt with cramps on 29.

Fast bowler Daren Powell (1-51) and left-arm spinner Ryan Hinds (1-49) were the successful bowlers for the home team.

Strauss, who hit 169 and 142 in the previous two Tests, was pleased with yet another three-figure score.

"It's a habit that hopefully I'll continue for a while," he said. "It's been a nice little purple patch for me to be honest.

"I suppose it's one of those things that when you're in form you have to cash in and thankfully, I was able to do that today."

Strauss admitted he was batting as well as he ever has in his 60 Tests over the past five years.

"It's up there. I had a little patch against South Africa just after I came in the side where I got three hundreds in five Tests," he said. "But, at the moment, it just feels comfortable.

"I feel pretty much like I'm concentrating well and playing the balls on their merits pretty well. Long may it continue and I've just got to enjoy it while it lasts."

Strauss said it was vital that he stretch his innings on day two and build another big England total.

"It's important to set the game up and not think about the end too early on," he said. "With our batting lineup, it's important that batsmen that are in take responsibility and we try and get a big score on the board."

After being asked to bowl first, West Indies grabbed an early breakthrough on a slow surface when Powell found the edge of Alastair Cook's tentative prod and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin grabbed the chance at 26-1.

The closest the home team went to adding another wicket in the first session was from run out chances as Strauss survived two, at 30 and 47.

On the first occasion, Hinds missed the stumps from backward point while Devon Smith had a clearer opportunity from third slip after another mix-up between Strauss and Shah, but was also wayward with his throw.

A third run out opportunity, this time to remove Shah, was also missed as newcomer Lendl Simmons failed to gather a ball with both batsmen at the same end.

The pair was eventually separated midway through the second session when nasty cramps in Shah's left hand forced him to retire hurt at 133-1.

Kevin Pietersen cracked two boundaries in one over from medium pacer Brendan Nash but perished cheaply in the final over before tea,

The champion right-hander made 10 before he was bowled through the gate by a Hinds arm ball at 156-2.

England, through Strauss and Collingwood, dominated the final session as West Indies used part-timers Hinds, Nash and captain Chris Gayle for the majority of the overs.

Strauss, after surviving a TV referral appeal for a lbw appeal on 95, brought up his century off 185 balls with a cover drive off his counterpart Gayle.

Strauss also passed 500 runs for the series when he reached 115.

Collingwood arrived at his half century just before the close, off 108 deliveries.

There were more woes for the home team when ace batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul limped off with a groin injury that threatened to hamper his participation in the rest of the match.