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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 March 2006, 12:00 GMT
Strauss ton puts England on top
Third Test, Mumbai (day one, stumps)
England 272-3 v India

A Strauss
Strauss acknowledges the applause for his first century in India

Andrew Strauss ended a run of low scores in the sub-continent to hit 128 and guide England to 272-3 on the first day of the third Test against India.

Strauss put on 106 with debutant Owais Shah and 72 with Kevin Pietersen after India captain Rahul Dravid had surprised many by opting to bowl first.

Shah was only playing because of an illness suffered by Alastair Cook.

But he had to retire at tea on 50 with severe cramps in his hands on a hot and humid day in Mumbai (Bombay).

Ian Bell, opening with Strauss because of Cook's stomach virus, put on 52 for the first wicket before playing a flat-footed drive off Sri Sreesanth which resulted in an easy catch for Harbhajan Singh at point.

And right-arm seamer Sreesanth struck again just before stumps when Pietersen (39) edged a drive to Mahendra Dhoni, who had a mixed day with the gloves.

With plenty of grass on the wicket, Dravid expected his three seamers to make good use of the swing on offer.

But the helpful bowling conditions did not last long for the Indians, who were inconsistent early on.

And England were in a powerful position at tea before relinquishing some of their advantage late in the day.

Strauss, who played some fine off-drives and pulls against the seamers, also produced some quality back-foot forcing shots off the spinners as he notched his eighth Test century.

Shah, who came out to bat just before lunch, made his first runs in Test cricket with a slick cut shot off Harbhajan, and did not look as nervous as one might have expected.

The two Middlesex men, both former captains, came out after the lunch interval determined to make Dravid regret his decision at the toss.

Shah hit the out-of-sorts Irfan Pathan for three fours in four deliveries - two of them delightful straight drives.

And Strauss latched onto a rare bad ball from Anil Kumble to loft him for six over midwicket.

Shah drove Harbhajan immaculately to the cover fence for his half-century.

But after tea, Pietersen came out to bat to break up the Middlesex monopoly with Shah unable to resume his unbeaten innings of exactly 50.

The moment Rahul Dravid dropped Strauss at slip on 92
The moment Rahul Dravid dropped Strauss at slip on 92

Strauss had hit a bit of congestion in the 80s, but did away with the nervous 90s altogether as he went from 88 to 100 in the space of four balls bowled by Harbhajan.

The second of three boundaries hit, a fierce cut, was a technical chance to Dravid at slip - but the skipper could not even get a hand to it.

The third was a pre-meditated slog sweep, a brave shot to employ to reach three figures.

Pietersen, after a patient start, began using his feet impressively against the spinners, driving Kumble along the turf and then Harbhajan into the crowd.

A tiring Strauss was dropped again, by Dhoni off Kumble, but soon gave the wicket-keeper another chance, this time off Harbhajan.

The 29-year-old had hit 17 fours plus a six off Kumble.

And that wicket seemed to drain much of Pietersen's confidence - he was out not long afterwards.

It was left to Paul Collingwood and captain Andrew Flintoff to see off the remaining few overs before stumps.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: England's Andrew Strauss



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