FIRST TEST, Chennai (day one, stumps):
India v England 229-5
Andrew Strauss hit a superb 123 but England collapsed from a formidable 164-1 to close day one on 229-5 as India came roaring back in Chennai.
Strauss, who put on 118 for the first wicket with Alastair Cook (52), drove a catch back to Amit Mishra late in the day as England lost their way.
It was going so well until Zaheer Khan took two wickets and Paul Collingwood received a dreadful decision.
A massive security presence and a muted, sparse crowd looked on.
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1125 - England 229-5 - CLOSE
First TV shots of the Barmy Army! Who are, it has to be said, not so much being 'Barmy' as they are rather lazily humming the tune to 'Jerusalem'. Still, unlike me they are at least there, showing their support to the England boys and fair play to them for that. Anyway, Anderson sees out the final over - another maiden - and he's done his job well, despite the fact he should have been out first ball. Andrew Flintoff remains not out and, with Matt Prior and Graeme Swann more than capable with the bat, could England still knock up a 350-plus score and apply some semblance of pressure on the hosts? Join me in the early hours of Friday morning and we'll find out together - this innings could really go either way, I reckon.
1120 - England 229-5
Zaheer will take the penultimate over of the day - and Flintoff survives without alarm, a maiden. Anderson will face the last over of the day and Freddie need not - and should not - face another ball today, meaning he will be at the crease Friday morning. How important might that prove?
"Is there anything in life as predictable as an England batting collapse?"
Marcus via the TMS inbox
1116 - England 229-5
That's one of them negotiated, Anderson left utterly bemused by Mishra's googly, but then pushing away to leg for a single, and Flintoff grabbing a single off the last ball of the over.
1113 - England 227-5
Zaheer back into the attack but still no sign of the new ball. Anderson gets off the mark with an edge through slips for a single, and Flintoff gets a boundary when a thicker edge down to fine leg rolls away for four. A gratefully received boundary, that, and this pair have three more overs in the day to survive.
1108 - England 222-5
Five overs to go in the day's play... Flintoff remains resolute in the face of some Mishra pushing and probing and it's a maiden.
1105 - England 222-5
Flintoff fends off Harbhajan before clipping a single off the penultimate delivery. Harbhajan licks his lips, Dhoni surrounds Anderson with catchers, but the nightwatchman survives.
1058 - WICKET! Strauss c & b Mishra 123, England 221-5
Oh no, that's exactly what England didn't need. Just shy of a six-hour stay at the crease and moments after sweeping a terrific four, Andrew Strauss pushes a return catch straight at an Amit Mishra top-spinner and the opener's 233-ball stay is over. A horrid time for a batsman to come in, so England opt to send in a nightwatchman in the form of James Anderson. And he should be gone first ball when he inside-edges onto pad and straight to silly point - but the umpire, as well as most of the Indian fielders, didn't see it and he survives.
1057 - England 217-4
Harbhajan looks like Joe Swash chewing a witchetty grub all of a sudden as he rips one past Flintoff's off stump with the batsman leaving well alone. Freddie looks less than impressed and the overs are ticking by here...
1053 - England 216-4
Mishra is brought into the attack and Flintoff picks his googly to nudge away for a couple after a Strauss single - still no sign of the new ball from Dhoni and I'm not surprised. Freddie in particular would love a bit more pace on the ball, I'm sure.
1049 - England 213-4
A single off another Harbhajan over and we've now had 81 overs in the day. In this session, we've seen 49 runs and three wickets from 24 overs - not exactly a thrilling run-rate, but a rather marvellous example of cat-and-mouse cricket nonetheless. England are desperate for the end of play to come, here, although India also appear to have taken their foot off the pedal to a certain extent, it has to be said.
1046 - England 212-4
A veritable flurry of runs in that over as Strauss and Flintoff milk three - yes THREE - off Yuvraj. England's mini collapse has apparently prompted the swathes of security surrounding the boundary rope to turn their back on the crowd and keep a keener eye on the cricket. If there's any chance of India batting on Friday, expect the crowds to double.
1043 - England 209-4
Flintoff is firmly in defensive mode out there and he fends off another Harbhajan over well, with another half hour or so for these two to see out with no more batsmen in the hutch.
"Re: Gordon Carr below, as someone who is a part time village cricket umpire it gives me great hope that Billy Bowden has an international career."
Alex S via the TMS inbox
1039 - England 208-4
With Flintoff not looking altogether comfortable against Harbhajan's spin, Dhoni opts to bring back Yuvraj and after Strauss cuts nicely for a single, Flintoff nurdles a couple through midwicket.
1036 - England 205-4
Just a single for Strauss from Harbhajan's over and the shadows are starting to creep across the ground rather swiftly. Still 13 overs in the day's play to go, though, so I don't think England will be able to rely on bad light to come to their rescue just yet.
1033 - England 204-4
Ishant Sharma - who has yet to take a wicket this innings despite another impressive showing - mixes it up nicely to Flintoff, forcing the burly all-rounder to fend, bob and weave his way through another maiden.
"Re Colly. I must leap to his defence. Up until about a year ago he was the most consistent performer for England, and also can be judged to save a good few runs in the field as well, so his worth is more than just the number of runs he scores, but also that he saves. He is having a bad trot at the moment agreed, but please can we stop this typical English boring and predictable kicking and mocking of a player as if he has always been bad. That's plainly not true. PS. He also has a lovely cheeky smile!"
Gina in Gloucestershire via the TMS inbox
"OK, so Collingwood's not exactly setting the world alight at the moment, but he's been England's saviour so many times in the past, I'm sure we can forgive him this bit of bad form. Oh and bring back Andy Caddick, Phil Tufnell and Graeme Hick. Problem solved."
Chris A via the TMS inbox
1027 - England 204-4
That's a beauty from Harbhajan, doing Strauss with bounce and turn and the ball misses the opener's bat by merely a whisker. Otherwise, four singles off the over. The new ball, for your information, is five overs away... gulp!
1023 - England 200-4
Sharma to Flintoff and Freddie fronts up well in defence before clipping one off his pads for a four down to fine leg that brings up England's 200. Massive partnership this, now - anything less than 350 for England would certainly not be enough against this India batting line-up.
"As an amateur batsman of over 20 years, I must say it gives me great hope to know someone like Paul Collingwood can play for England."
Gordon Carr via the TMS inbox
1013 - WICKET! Collingwood c Gambhir b Harbhajan 9, England 195-4
Yuvraj's spell is over with figues of 9-0-16-0, impressive work. Harbhajan returns... and Paul Collingwood goes! In fairness to Colly, though, it's a shocking decision from Billy Bowden, who gives the England batsman out caught at fine leg despite replays showing that the ball was missing his gloves by a good six inches. Colly can't believe his luck, England coach Peter Moores probably can't understand what's happened to such a fine start, and Owais Shah probably still can't believe he's not playing. Flintoff gets off the mark with a single. England 196-4
1011 - England 195-3
Ishant Sharma to Collingwood and, after edging another one short of the slip cordon, Colly pinches the strike with a single off the last delivery. The way he is playing, that will please India no end.
"Is Mr Fraser in charge of selecting his own photo on your commentary or is he indeed still 23 years old? I can feel a Frasergate type scenario coming on - what next, are we to be believe the Analyst has a full head of hair?"
Ed in Dubai via the TMS inbox
1003 - England 194-3
Collingwood, in all honesty, is looking really rather awful it has to be said. Still, as PulpGrape on 606 points out, he has at least out-scored Pietersen already. Two singles off Yuvraj keep England just about ticking over.
0959 - England 192-3
How has he survived that? Sharma gets one to reverse in at Collingwood but the ball rolls off the batsman's thigh, between his legs, and inches past the stumps. As Aggers and Fraser rather eloquently put it on TMS - "It looks like he's wielding a rounders bat out there." Three singles off the over.
0954 - England 189-3
Yuvraj continues and the slow left-armer twice has appeals for lbw against Collingwood - the second a rather desperate hacked scream at umpire Billy Bowden - but both clearly struck the batsman outside the line and are denied. Just as a reminder, the 'referral' system for appeals is not in effect in this series.
0950 - England 188-3
Zaheer opts for the short-pitched attack at Strauss, but the centurion sees it off well, pinching a single off the last to keep the strike.
0945 - England 187-3
Well, with the in-form Owais Shah looking on from the dressing room, Collingwood will know he has much to prove here. He and Strauss pinch three runs from Yuvraj and this is a big, big period for the tourists - survive it and they've had a good day, survive it not and...
"Nice of England to save the inevitable collapse until we in the UK have got into work and logged on. Thanks a bundle."
nclark008 on 606
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"If KP has trouble out there what hope has Collingwood got? Please make me eat my words Colly."
Jonathan H via the TMS inbox
"England must guard against throwing away a good position here. Collingwood is no form whatsoever, though he is a fighter, and England have to stick in a bit now."
Angus Fraser on TMS
0939 - WICKET! Pietersen c & b Zaheer 4, England 180-3
That's the one they wanted! KP never looked settled out there and having accumulated just four runs from 32 balls he attempts a hook at a fierce Zaheer bouncer, succeeding only in top-edging straight back to the bowler. Paul Collingwood comes in and, first ball, edges straight at the slip cordon, but it drops short and rolls away for four. England 184-3
0936 - England 179-2
Yuvraj continues to Pietersen, but again KP keeps his nerves about him and fends off a maiden without alarm, giving Strauss time to reflect on a stunning century in the circumstances. Aside from the Stanford series, this is Strauss's first competitive action of note since September - well done sir.
0932 - England 179-2
KP is clearly the one India want here, despite the fact Strauss is nearing his century. Zaheer has the England skipper in all sorts of bother with one that drifts in and stays low, but Pietersen digs it away for a single. Zaheer then arrows a yorker in at Strauss that the opener does brilliantly to dig out... and Andrew Strauss brings up his century! A prod down past the slips and away for four and that ton has come off 191 balls. Superb stuff.
"If Vaughan ever recovers his form, I would welcome him at number three - this is a dodgy position for England. Bell does not seem to perform at first wicket down, even though he says it is his preferred position."
chipleader on 606
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0928 - England 173-2
Yuvraj races through another nice over, but KP resists the urge to flay away at him and it's a maiden - the third in a row for India.
0925 - England 173-2
Zaheer is swinging it both ways out there but Strauss, two short of his 13th Test ton, has hit wits about him at the moment and he fends off a maiden over very well.
"You would think Strauss would say to Pietersen 'look, I'll take Yuvraj if you take Zaheer'. KP is making Yuvraj look like a world beater out there."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS
"At the risk of putting the mockers on KP I think that this is one of those MOMENTS in a player's career when a great performance by an England captain will go down in cricketing history. And KP is just the man to do it. Fingers crossed."
Andrew, Cumbria via the TMS inbox
0921 - England 173-2
Well well well, Yuvraj continues and, facing him first up, KP dances down the wicket and attempts to heave him out of the ground - succeeding only in inside-edging him to square leg for a scampered couple. Yuvraj causes the England skipper plenty more problems with the rest of the over and that should be quite a tussle in the coming minutes.
0917 - England 170-2
Change of tact from Zaheer to KP as he goes round the wicket - clearly a pre-determined plan - and he causes some bother when one stays low and just clips his pad outside the line. Terrific over all round and it's a maiden.
0911 - England 170-2
Dhoni might just have laid into his players during that tea break - India are looking lively again in the field and Yuvraj is dismayed when his lbw shout against Kevin Pietersen is turned down by Billy Bowden. KP got a massive stride in and there was probably just too much doubt. Strauss, apparently unaffected by the turmoil at the other end, laces a beauty of a cut shot away for four to move onto 97no.
0904 - WICKET! Bell lbw Zaheer 17, England 164-2
Zaheer grabs the ball after tea and takes just two deliveries to make his mark - he pitches one on, swings it back into the pads, and Ian Bell has to go. Lined him up well there, Zaheer, pushing the first ball across Bell and then bringing the next one back in at him. Just the start to the evening session India would have wanted. A leg bye to finish the over, England 165-2.
"As I recall Shahid Afridi would be excellent on Strictly Come Dancing. His version of 'The Twist' on the wicket in Pakistan a few years ago was quite breathtaking."
John Collins, Wolverhampton via the TMS inbox
0900: Right, as promised, the 606 doors are open. And for today's featured article, I have decided to jump in on wombletiltheend's piece which not only pleaded for KP to win the toss but also, rather spookily, predicted England would be on their way to 300-1 by the time 606 re-opened. Well done, son.
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"Am I looking at the wrong web page? The one I can see details how England’s openers have more than 10 runs each before giving away easy wickets. Please correct this obvious technical hitch and return to normal service."
James in Kettering via the TMS inbox
"I think it's a bit rum to be suggesting that your live-texting has absolutely no effect on what's happening n the middle. You really need to take into account the point that, in well-established relativistic (as opposed to Newtonian) space-time theories, the notions of an essential fixedness of time are inapplicable in spatially extended systems, due to what we might call the relativity of simultaneity. In this context, you should have recognised the logic that an entire segement of a system's history is needed before it's future behavour is fixed, and that your typing might quite feasibly get Straussy out caught behind down the legside, especially if there's a black hole nearby. Pretty obvious mistake there, Sam."
Paul in Lancs via the TMX inbox
"I can just see Ian Bell on Strictly Come Dancing… he would definitely be one for the ladies. Who else would we like to see on there? How about Inzamam being the new John Sergeant?"
Ben from Manchester via the TMS inbox
0840 - England 164-1 - TEA
Yuvraj continues but Bell grabs a single and Strauss survives one that nibbles the edge but does not carry to slip and that's England's session again. By the way - 30 overs were bowled in that session, how often does that happen in modern international cricket? Anyway, that's tea and when I return after the break we will have red-hot 606 action as the forums open their doors to the masses. What joy.
0837 - England 163-1
Ouch! Shades of Simon Jones at Brisbane as Ishant Sharma goes over awkwardly on the boundary edge - fortunately the India seamer is OK but he can't stop consecutive swept fours from Strauss that takes the opener storming into the 90s. Not the best over from Sehwag.
0834 - England 155-1
Soothsayer Lyon strikes again - India skipper Dhoni brings on Yuvraj Singh to replace Amit Mishra and the slow left-armer immediately rips one past Strauss's outside edge. Otherwise no great alarm for England and, with tea approaching fast, Virender Sehwag is going to try his luck at the other end.
0832 - England 154-1
One to cover point, one to midwicket and one square - three singles and England continue to tick along. India might want to change things up in a bit, this is a bit comfortable at the moment.
"'Soporific' used twice already today. Hello word bank... Ding! Shame Mr Cook didn't follow suit earlier."
Tom W, Bath via the TMS inbox
0827 - England 151-1
Dum de dum, as you were. One off the over, Bell starting to show some nifty footwork without getting the ball away. Someone sign that boy up for Strictly Come Dancing.
"If England can get 350-400, I really think they'll be in a good position on this pitch. Bounce is starting to rear its head, now, and that will please England's bowlers no end."
Angus Fraser on TMS
0824 - England 150-1
Three more singles for England - who are ticking over nicely again - and that's the 150 up for the tourists.
0820 - England 147-1
Bell grabs a few off another teasing Mishra over, before Strauss languidly clips a single away. The crowd starting to pick up a bit now - maybe 10,000 in the M.A.Chidambaram Stadium by the look of things - but, to be fair, they're not being greeted by the most exciting passage of play. That said, Straussy's looking top notch at the moment. (Disclaimer - I have no impact, negative or otherwise, on events out on the Chennai pitch. Ey fank yaow.)
0816 - England 143-1
All a bit soporific at the moment, with Dhoni attempting to temper Strauss's cut shot with three fielders square on the offside and Harbhajan going round the wicket. One from the over.
0812 - England 142-1
Another maiden from Mishra, Strauss fending the odd one that is bouncing now away well.
0810 - England 142-1
Another cut to deep cover for Strauss brings the opener a couple, but Harbhajan perseveres and the England batsman resorts to the sweep to relieve the pressure. India rattling through the overs at the moment but, if they keep their heads, England will know this is still a pitch upon which to make runs.
0806 - England 139-1
Mishra continues and he's finding a little more rhythm than before lunch, but Bell just about sees him off and it's a maiden - the first since lunch.
"I tuned in to TMS for one over earlier on and that was when Cook went for his hefty lefty heave ho and got out. So it was my fault. Sorry. I'll stick to the text now."
Ian, Brentford via the TMS inbox
(Good lad, you know it makes sense...)
0803 - England 139-1
Harbhajan causes Bell a few problems with a couple that rap him on the pads - one, the doosra, bounced up into the right-hander's chest and he fends it away well with soft hands.
0759 - England 137-1
First show of intent from Ian Bell as he advances a couple of steps down the wicket and punches it straight back down the ground for four off Mishra, who is on for Sharma. By the by, having chatted to a few insiders in the England camp, I can exclusively reveal Mr Bell is really rather precious about his barnet. Not the greatest exclusive, admittedly, but interesting nonetheless given his hair wouldn't look out of place on a young Worzel Gummidge. Charming chap, though, Belly.
0755 - England 133-1
While Bell is content to nudge and nurdle early in his innings as he settles into the pace of the pitch, Strauss - who has looked nice and fluent since lunch - continues on his merry way, sweeping Harbhajan firmly for four. Crowd still sparse and a few of you asking about the barmy army - no great presence as far as I can tell at the moment, folks.
0752 - England 128-1
Sharma looking to bring it back in to Strauss, now, but he starts one a little too straight and the opener makes no mistake in clipping it away smartly for four - his ninth of the innings and he moves on to 70 not out. By the way, it was remiss of me not to point out that the Middlesex man passed 4,000 Test runs earlier - how nice.
0744 - England 124-1
Harbhajan continues and yields four either side of a big shout for lbw against Ian Bell, replays showing it hit him outside off stump. As expected, India have woken up a bit.
0739 - England 120-1
Strauss pinches a single off his pads to bring Ian Bell on strike to Sharma... and the Warwickshire batsman dabs away off his hips to get off the mark second ball. Sharma starting to reverse-swing it here, though.
0733 - WICKET! Cook c Zaheer b Harbhajan 52, England 118-1
Harbhajan continues and he beats Strauss's bat first up with one that turns just a touch and then Alastair Cook goes! Oh, that's a gift, it really is. The Essex man has a slog at the last ball of the over, top-edges, and it loops high in the air and straight to Zaheer Khan at mid-on. India huddle up and, with right-hander Ian Bell coming to the crease, they might fancy nipping one or two more out in the next few overs.
0728 - England 117-0
Mahendra Dhoni has seen enough of the twin spin approach and Ishant Sharma returns to see if he can shirk Cook and Strauss from their comfort zone. It's a little better as England pinch a single from an accurate over, but the tourists are still more than happy.
"Don't get me wrong, Jonathan Agnew is top banana, but his latest blog suggests: "This must be the sternest challenge ever faced by an England cricket team". Doesn't he mean another series with limited preparation afforded to the teams, half-filled stadiums and players preoccupied with IPL and Stanford riches? Surely facing Bradman's invincibles or the 1980's West Indies team may've been sterner?"
Will Halliday via the TMS inbox
Jonathan Agnew's column
0722 - England 116-0
Don't bowl it there Harbhajan, son. The spinner pitches one far too short and Strauss leaps on it like Calum Best on an inebriated Essex WAG and punches it away for cut four. It's all a bit easy for England at the moment.
0719 - England 111-0
Amit Mishra has a wildly optimistic lbw shout at one that is clearly missing leg and Alastair Cook replies with an audacious slog-swipe from outside off away for a one-bounce four. That's his fifty.
0716 - England 106-0
Harbhajan rips through an over and although it yields just the single, there is no danger to England at that pace.
Mishra hasn't settled down at all. He's bowling a lot flatter than usual and he isn't getting any turn. For his part, Harbhajan is bowling far too quick, and England are batting beautifully to add to India's frustration."
Sunil Gavaskar on TMS
0712 - England 105-0
England continue to milk singles off the spinners and Alastair Cook brings up the 100 opening stand with a nudge off his pads. Strauss goes four better with a lovely cut-shot that races over the slow outfield for a boundary. India seem to be sitting in waiting for something to happen, here, and England are happy enough to make the most of their apparent lethargy.
0708 - England 97-0
A rare hint at a little bit of turn there for Harbhajan but Andrew Strauss negotiates it nicely, moving to his 50 with a neat nudge to the leg side.
0706 - England 95-0
Another cracking shot from Alastair Cook, creaming one through the covers for four off Mishra as England continue to make the most of this featherbed pitch. Both openers now approaching half-centuries.
"It's quiet because everyone nodded off during the tedious morning session... Still, better a cautious start than a clatter of English wickets. If England do push on against India in this series can I rightfully claim superiority over my Australian colleagues here in Perth? Any excuse..."
John Davies - eagerly looking forward to a positive result! via the TMS inbox
(Two points - I think calling that morning session 'tedious' is a touch harsh. Soporific, maybe, but just what England needed. As for your last point - as you quite rightly say sir, any excuse...!)
0702 - England 89-0
England milking the singles, now, while Alastair Cook gives us a hint of the Chennai hint as he takes time out to empty a bucket of sweat from his helmet. Tim Ambrose brings out a wee dram to quench the opener's thirst.
0658 - England 86-0
Excellent running from England as they pinch a single and a couple off Mishra and it prompts the biggest cheer of the day so far. Not because the home fans appreciate a decent bit of work between the wickets, but because Sachin Tendulkar fields at deep square leg. I hear he's quite popular in these parts?
"It's a bit quiet on here, Sam, all those in Blighty still tucked up in bed are they?"
Andy in Gaborone via the TMS inbox
"Having been slow and cautious in the morning, it now looks as though England have decided now is the time to push on and dominate. Let's hope they don't push it too much, though, the odd one is turning."
Angus Fraser on TMS
0655 - England 83-0
Cook dabs Harbhajan away for a single first up and Strauss then flays the spinner away for a cracking four through the covers and then another boundary backward of square. That's 20 runs in three overs since lunch.
0650 - England 74-0
Well, that's the first major alarm of the day for England as Rahul Dravid claims a catch at slip after Strauss prods at one from Mishra. Umpire Billy Bowden is unsure so refers it and replays cannot clear up whether it was a clear nick or the bat jamming the ball into the ground and it has to be given not out. Not a huge amount of dismay from the India fielders - despite Dravid theatrically putting his finger in the air prior to the referral - and Cook follows up with a clip through midwicket for a couple and then a push through the covers for a three.
0645 - England 68-0
Strauss - who did not score one run on the off side before lunch - faces up to Harbhajan as India continue with spin after the break, and he punches one through the covers for four to immediately address that quirk to his morning scoring. A single to finish.
0636: Right then, a few minutes until the restart and you have to suspect that England's lunch will have tasted rather lovely after that morning from Strauss and Cook. A few more hours of that and pre-series expectations of an India walkover will have to be rather swiftly retracted...
0601 - England 63-0 - LUNCH
Mishra with the last over before lunch and, three singles later, that will be the session's end. Just what the doctor ordered for England - Cook and Strauss both unbeaten on 31, and these two and the rest of the tourists' batting line-up should be licking their lips I reckon. Talking of which, I'm off to grab some brekkie - I suggest you do the same, and I'll see you in half hour or so.
0557 - England 60-0
Sharma continues and it's just the single to show for it for England, Strauss miscueing a couple on the pull - again. Meanwhile, over in Dunedin, New Zealand close the first day's play against the West Indies on 226-4, with Jesse Ryder unbeaten on 54.
New Zealand v West Indies
0553 - England 59-0
As you were out in Chennai, Cook and Strauss looking solid enough, Mishra looking to mix it up, and the India fielders looking, well, bored.
"India may have got in wrong on this pitch in having only four main bowlers. The way the last hour and a quarter have gone, they may be in for a long haul unless either they bowl exceedingly tightly or England self destruct."
Ramesh S via the TMS inbox
(England self destruct? I've never before heard such a bizarre notion!)
0550 - England 58-0
Sharma continues to send it down on a length and it is comfortable enough as Strauss takes a single off the over. As Simon Hughes on TMS points out, it's perhaps a little surprising the India seamers haven't banged it in a bit short every now and then - it's the only time they've really troubled this opening pairing this morning.
0545 - England 57-0
Googly first up from Mishra - how that did for the Australians not too far in the distant past - but Strauss watches it well past his bat. Mishra starting to mix it up a bit - Panesar and Swann take note - but Cook and Strauss milk him for three off the over.
0542 - England 54-0
Zaheer contines to probe in what is his ninth over and it is a maiden. No swing, no seam and very little bounce. This could be a long day for the India bowlers.
0538 - England 54-0
Mishra continues and, after a single for Strauss, Cook attempts to take liberties with a slog-drive that spoons off the toe of his bat and falls wide of the fielder at backward point. Fortunate to survive that, although perhaps an indication England will look to target the young spinner?
0534 - England 52-0
One from the over - Zaheer bowling rather wide of Cook's off-stump - and that's the first 20 overs safely negotiated.
0530 - England 51-0
A first look at Amit Mishra, then, and Strauss likes what he sees, twice slog-sweeping the young spinner away for a boundary and that's the 50 up for England. A single to end the over.
"75 mins, 17 overs and no extras from Harbhajan and co, not sure ill live to see the day when an English bowling attack can do the same! Although, if the pitch is so flat that they've already requested a ball change, i think extras will be the least of England's concerns in the field. Anyone fancy 600+ with a Yuvraj double ton? Maybe i just need a little more faith in Monty!!"
Tom W, Bath via the TMS inbox
(Funny you should mention Monty Panesar, there's a rather fabulous piece on him on this very website... *shamless plug alert*)
The making of Monty
0526 - England 42-0
A bit of a delay as India's lobbying for a new ball finally bears fruit and the 'cherry' is changed. Zaheer immediately raps Strauss on the pads but it is missing leg by a mile and a similar delivery brings England their first extra - a leg bye - of the innings. With Cook on strike, Dhoni brings in a leg slip, but the Essex man prods towards deep forward square leg for a couple and it remains comfortable for England.
"This is exactly what England will have wanted, really, after the events of the past fortnight. To win the toss, get in, and just bat. It's not an explosive start by any means, but it is a very good one in the circumstances."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS
0517 - England 39-0
Harbhajan goes over the wicket for the first time but still no turn and it's a simple enough maiden for Cook.
"I'm also an expat in Singapore and my best mate often plays with ex-Man United come Reality TV "performer" Lee Sharpe. Sure we could have a great golf tournament - Sir Geoffrey, Robbie Williams and Lee Sharpe. Could be better reality TV than the other rubbish out there."
Tesh, Singapore via the TMS inbox
(Forgive me if I don't rush to check the TV listings hey mate...)
"I've got a lot of time for Strauss but his footwork often makes John Sergeant look fleet footed."
Marc via the TMS inbox
0513 - England 39-0
Cook has enjoyed plenty of the strike in the last few overs and he is starting to show some real touch as he drills a beauty straight down the ground for four off Zaheer - this pitch, almost officially, is flatter than an X Factor contestant's version of Dido's 'White Flag'.
0509 - England 34-0
Harbhajan continues and Cook welcomes his return after a swig of some indeterminate fruit drink with a lovely stroke through the covers that creeps over the boundary. A single to finish the over and that toss victory is looking increasingly important. Meanwhile, the boys on TMS are suggesting not much has been said about the India players' state of mind at present... they should clearly pay more attention to this website.
Indian thoughts return to cricket
0503 - England 29-0
Another not entirely convincing pull from Strauss as the Middlesex man punts one just out of Rahul Dravid's reach at midwicket for a couple. Three off that over - Khan replacing Sharma - and that's the first hour and drinks.
0458 - England 26-0
Single for Cook off Harbhajan and still few alarms.
"I have to say I think Kevin Pietersen has been absolutely superb since his arrival here - and before. Forever smiling, forever positive and he is proving himself a fine leader. I'm very impressed."
Simon Hughes on TMS
"Am I the only one on here who's not from Singapore and have no relatives with pro am golf buddies? I'm rarer than an Anderson maiden. Although I should say Jimmy Tarbuck and I regularly go paragliding when we can coordinate diaries."
Marc S via the TMS inbox
0455 - England 25-0
A couple from Cook through square leg and then a single as he overtakes Strauss in the run stakes to hit the heady heights of 13 not out. Both openers are going at a strike rate under 40 at the moment and it is safe to say there appear very few demons in this pitch on this first morning.
"As a work in progress it'll be fascinating to see how England come through this. They are clearly unprepared - and how England have been criticised in the past for being 'undercooked' before Test series - so if they come through this..."
Angus Fraser on TMS
0450 - England 22-0
Bit more interest for the hosts as Dhoni puts three round the bat for Harbhajan and Strauss looks a little less comfortable all of a sudden. Slight alarm as he is rapped on the back leg, but the ball pitched way outside leg and that's a maiden.
"Re: Vics at 0435 - That'd give a whole new twist to the phrase 'lie back and think of England'! By the way, my aunty Gill plays golf with Robbie Williams' mum. Should I try to infiltrate their weekly game in the hope that the super star shows up at the clubhouse one day?"
Martin (also from Singapore) via the TMS inbox
0447 - England 22-0
Delish from Cook as he tonks a beauty of a cover drive off Sharma away for four - that's his first boundary of the innings - but still no real pace off the pitch or bat, the Essex man getting a big inside-edge on a hugely optimistic lbw shout off the last delivery.
"Sam, sorry to be the proverbial party pooper but as an eternal optimist I wildly predicted a win whilst on a night shift in the one-day series and India proceded to get the highest score ever against England. So, this time, I boldly predict a thrashing for our boys over the course of the next five days (coinciding with my nights). Fingers crossed i'm as wrong as last time..."
James the nurse, York via the TMS inbox
0440 - England 18-0
What do you do when there's no swing or seam? You bring on the spinner. We're 35 minutes into this Test with just 14 runs on the board and Harbhajan Singh has the ball already - blimey. Just three catchers, though, and not much turn at all as Strauss and Cook milk four off the over.
0435 - England 14-0
Strauss - the most compulsive swinger in town? He has another swipe at one that isn't that short and his attempted pull misses the ball completely. Hhmm. Couple of singles from the over but India aren't happy with this ball at all...
"Glad to see a fellow optimist at the helm Sam – double hundred for Strauss and a fivefer for Monty... On a different note, my ex-boyfriend's dad has just started playing golf with Geoffrey Boycott. Whaddya reckon – worth a reunion just to get the opportunity to meet the great man?"
Vics (Singapore) via the TMS inbox
0429 - England 12-0
Strauss decides this pitch is too good to pinch a run an over on this morning and attempts to pull one through midwicket - it's miscued but falls safe between a couple of fielders. Moments later, after Khan has complained about the ball, no doubt because it isn't swinging, and Cook repeats the trick. Both those shots could have gone anywhere, really. Unlike the last ball of the over - Strauss clips one off his pads for four and that's the first boundary of the innings.
0426 - England 6-0
Strauss picks up a single with a thick inside-edge and two deliveries later we have the first appeal of the series, Sharma appealing for lbw after one nips back a touch at Cook. Big inside-edge on that, though, and the ball never threatens to carry to Dhoni behind the stumps. A rather sedate start, this, otherwise. Brew anyone?
"Good evening, doctor - have a "pipe"? I have enough trouble teaching the natives to speak English out here - I thought the expression was a "butcher's" hook. Please don't tell me I've been getting it wrong all this time!"
Don, exiled in snowy Houston, Texas via the TMS inbox
(I believe you can use either... or at least so says my dad and, I'll be honest with you, what my old man says goes in my house)
0421 - England 5-0
Another maiden and still only that one delivery from Sharma in the previous over to worry England. As for you lot, judging by your correspondence, it appears the students are outweighed by the ex-pats in a big way but you all have one thing in common - I am your excuse for avoiding any semblance of work. Nice effort all round people, top work.
0417 - England 5-0
First sign of movement off the pitch as Sharma gets one to seam off a length and beat the outside of Alastair Cook's bat, but he picks up a couple next ball through the covers to get off the mark. Still a bit scarce in the stands, but those that are in are making themselves heard nicely.
0412 - England 2-0
Another maiden without alarm as Strauss comfortably fends off Khan's left-arm over.
0409 - England 2-0
Resolute and solid from Alastair Cook as the Essex opener gets the full face behind an accurate over from Ishant Sharma. Early signs are that this is a bit of a featherbed pitch and that it might turn out to be a bit crucial KP won the toss. Not the first thing the England skipper had done right in the last fortnight is it? Not by a long stretch.
"Students are the life blood? What about all us ex-pats? Come on England give me a win to get these Aussies off my back!! I have had League, Union and Cricket (already) thrown at me in the last month."
Dan, Newcastle, NSW in the TMS inbox
"I was with the team on Saturday in Abu Dhabi and they are definitely serious about these games. The sessions were intense and the only player who talked about anything else was Colly lamenting the state of Sunderland FC."
David Stokes, Dubai via the TMS inbox
0405 - England 2-0
England are off the mark as Strauss prods a thick edge along the floor back past Khan for a couple and, after all the to-ing and fro-ing of the past couple of weeks, we have cricket back at the top of the agenda and isn't that a bit of a relief.
0359: The teams are out, Zaheer Khan has the new ball, and Andrew Strauss will face the first delivery. A minute's silence is perfectly observed and here we go...
"In Chennai on business and was in the Taj Coromandel Hotel on Monday when the teams arrived. The coaches headed straight for the bar with Peter Moores striding out in front to be the first one on the G 'n' Ts. Latest news on the expat grapevine is the cyclone has headed a different direction and we're in for 5 days of glorious sunshine."
Dave, Chennai via the TMS inbox
"Can't help thinking that England are going to be up against it here - no warm up games spells big trouble I reckon."
Damien in London via the TMS inbox
"Morning Sam, always nice to have a test match on to while away the hours at work...! Personally, I would like to have seen Adil Rashid given a go ahead of Graeme Swann as he seems an exciting prospect - and the gamble to give Monty his debut last time we played here clearly paid off! I just hope England can make a reasonable start and maybe go into lunch without losing a wicket, hopeful as that wish may be..."
Richard via the TMS inbox
0353: KP "could not be prouder" of his England charges for their joint decision to go ahead with this Test series and doesn't half look pleased to have won the toss - I reckon that puts England in the mixer here. Then again, I am the eternal optimist. India counterpart Mahendra Dhoni, meanwhile, insists the toss "makes no difference" and he is confident his boys will "turn up and do a good, professional job". What do I know, huh?
"A look around the stadium and I can report that crowd numbers are outweighed by commandos and various security people at the moment."
Jonathan Agnew on TMS
India: V Sehwag, G Gambhir, R Dravid, SR Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (capt, wkt), Harbhajan Singh, Z Khan, I Sharma, A Mishra.
England: AN Cook, AJ Strauss, IR Bell, KP Pietersen (capt), PD Collingwood, A Flintoff, MJ Prior (wkt), GP Swann, SJ Harmison, JM Anderson, MS Panesar.
Umpires: B F Bowden and D J Harper
0344: Right then, let's have a pipe (-hook = look) at the teams. As we know, England have opted to recall Sussex wicketkeeper Matt Prior to the Test side for the first time in about a year in place of Warwickshire gloveman Tim Ambrose, while Graeme Swann makes his long overdue Test debut at the grand ol' age of 29 with Stuart Broad injured. India, as expected, start with Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, with Murali Vijay dropped and Sourav Ganguly retired. The weather? It's looking pretty dry... for now.
"Pulling an all-nighter to get my essay in for midday. Been waiting for four o'clock to come around so the cricket can see me through to the end."
Jamie, Southampton via text
(Ah yes, my main lifeblood at this time of the morn' - the student. Welcome aboard sir)
0338: By the way, the more observant among you will notice I am not Ben Dirs, Tom Fordyce or even Mark Mitchener. That's right, after a spell away from the comfort of live TMS text commentary I, Sam Lyon, am back in a big way. And that means I want you all to welcome my return with a torrent of texts via 81111, emails to email@example.com and plenty of chat on 606 (when it opens at 0900 GMT). You know you want to...
0335: First and foremost - news of the toss and England skipper Kevin Pietersen has called correctly, opting to bat first on what, according to Alison Mitchell on TMS, looks a pretty flat pitch. As is often the way with Test cricket in India, it is something of a muted atmosphere at M.A.Chidambaram Stadium right now but there's still time for the crowds to pour in.
0330: So here it is. In just under half an hour, two weeks after the atrocities of the Mumbai attacks and following a fortnight's uncertainty over whether England's Test tour of India would go ahead at all, the first Test in Chennai will get under way. And you know what? I reckon it might just be a cracker...