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Jonathan Agnew column

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in India

Andrew Strauss
Not a single minute has been lost to bad weather, but the game was cynically slowed down to a crawl and the umpires did nothing

Jonathan Agnew

Another tremendous display of patience and determination by Andrew Strauss - and a gritty innings from Paul Collingwood - has steered England towards a position from which they will have a real chance of surprising everyone and winning the first Test.

Strauss had some luck in that he was dropped on 15 by Mahendra Dhoni, standing up to the wicket to the leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

That blemish apart - and you need some luck to survive on this Chennai pitch - Strauss's knock has been a carbon copy of his first innings.

No drives, and no attempts to get down the pitch to the spinners - but almost total reliance on the sweep shot and carefully placed deflections. Why the Indians persist in placing a mid-on and mid-off for him, I do not know.

They should be encouraging him to hit the ball in places that are not comfortable and force him into playing a false stroke.

When Strauss and Collingwood teamed up, England were in real strife on 43-3. India believed they were right back in the game having just taken the key wicket of Kevin Pietersen, who fell to a brave, but correct, lbw decision by umpire Daryl Harper.

Increasingly these days, umpires feel more confident about giving batsmen out lbw on the front foot when they prod forward to spinners, and this delivery from the low, slingy Yuvraj Singh would have gone on to hit the stumps.

Pietersen made only 1 and, for the first time in a Test match, failed to make double figures in either completed innings.

606: DEBATE
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Already 75 runs behind on the first innings, India needed wickets from the start, and Ishant Sharma again showed maturity beyond his years when he persisted from round the wicket to Alastair Cook despite bowling seven no-balls.

Although frustrated, he plugged away and the angle worked when Cook played rather limply outside the off stump and edged to Dhoni for nine.

Ian Bell failed to remove the uncertainty about his selection ahead of Owais Shah for the next game when, on seven, he lunged at Mishra's googly, which he failed to read, and the extra bounce found his glove and presented short-leg with an easy catch.

With such tight, pressurised cricket to enjoy, how sad that the over rates in this match have reached an all-time low. No fewer than 17 overs remained to be bowled at the official close of play.

Not a single minute had been lost to bad weather, but the game was cynically slowed down to a crawl and yet the umpires did nothing.

The International Cricket Council has recently announced that it plans to get tough, and we wait impatiently to see what the governing body will introduce to sort this out once and for all. That, of course, is wishful thinking: it will do nothing.

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
12 Dec 08 |  England
Swann on song as England prosper
12 Dec 08 |  England
Swann revels in dream Test debut
12 Dec 08 |  England
India v England day two photos
12 Dec 08 |  England
England opt for Swann and Prior
10 Dec 08 |  England
The making of Monty
10 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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