London: England and India begin their Test series next week at Lord's, but there will be an early taste of what's on offer when the tourists play their three-day match against Somerset. And that's not just because it will be a chance to see MS Dhoni's team, but because it is set to be round one of Andrew Strauss versus Zaheer Khan. (Also Read: Injury could put Sehwag out of entire series)
It's not a contest that will decide the series - England are good enough to win without Strauss's runs and India have other bowlers besides Zaheer - but it's an intriguing head-to-head. Strauss has issues with left-arm quicks and Zaheer is the best in the business. For both players Taunton is important; Strauss ideally needs a decent score before the Test series and Zaheer needs miles in his legs having not played since the IPL. (Also see: Sachin and others face short pitch bowling to practice)
The two sides are, of course, seeing the opportunity very differently. Strauss is playing down the significance of the outing, suggesting he would need it even if he had scored plenty of runs against Sri Lanka rather than the 27 he managed in four innings, but there was a hint from Duncan Fletcher that India see it as a chance to make an early mark.