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Strauss gives England fine start

Fifth Test, Trinidad (day one, close):
England 258-2 v West Indies

By David Ornstein

Andrew Strauss
Strauss has scored three centuries in the series and five this winter

England captain Andrew Strauss recorded his 17th Test century as the tourists made a solid start to the must-win fifth Test against West Indies.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, England saw Alastair Cook (12) caught behind off Daren Powell.

Owais Shah (29) put on 107 with Strauss but retired hurt before Kevin Pietersen (10) was bowled by Ryan Hinds.

But Strauss (139 not out) and Paul Collingwood (54 not out) guided England to 258-2 at the close.

The tourists, 1-0 down following their defeat in Jamaica, will be keen to build a substantial lead on day two before attempting to make inroads into the hosts' batting line-up.

But they must overcome a West Indies side who need only a draw to claim their first Test series victory since 2004 and first against England since 1994.

The hosts are sure to face accusations of negativity after slowing their opponents' progress with defensive tactics and a refusal to take the new ball.

Strauss will be buoyed by the knowledge that this pitch has produced results in each of the last 10 Tests played on it, although England have taken 20 wickets just once in their last 10 matches.

With that in mind they reverted to a five-man attack with the uncapped Amjad Khan preferred to Steve Harmison as Ryan Sidebottom's replacement and Monty Panesar coming in for Ravi Bopara.

Bopara could count himself unfortunate after hitting a century in Barbados but, on a slow track that is expected to break up towards the end of the match, the selection of a second spinner looked a shrewd move.

606: DEBATE
Cricketing_stargazer

West Indies, by contrast, opted for a four-man attack and dropped spinner Sulieman Benn in favour of an extra batsman in Lendl Simmons.

That decision appeared ill-judged as openers Strauss and Cook exposed the lack of pace in the pitch by crashing Powell for off-side boundaries early on.

But Cook looked ill-at-ease as the morning progressed and when Powell got a full-pitched delivery to seam away and shave the left-hander's outside edge, he was returning to the pavilion.

Things might have got worse for England when Powell produced another gem that straightened on Shah, kissed the right-hander's outside edge and fell just short of Chris Gayle at first slip.

Shah faced 19 balls, in which he survived two lbw appeals, before getting off the mark with an risky single that would have accounted for Strauss had Hinds found the stumps with his throw.

But the reprieve appeared to relax Shah and he opened up with driven and cut boundaries in helping his team to 74-1 at lunch.

After the interval, England struggled to establish any sort of fluency and, for the second time, Strauss could have been run out.

The 32-year-old worked Brendan Nash to gulley and Shah called a single, only to send his captain back when Devon Smith fielded and shied unsuccessfully with Strauss well short of his ground.

Strauss went on to notch his 15th Test half-century but, moments later, he was almost caught by Gayle as he miscued an attempted dab off Nash that fell inches short of the Windies captain at slip.

Kevin Pietersen is bowled by Ryan Hinds
Pietersen was beaten all ends up by a superb delivery from Hinds

Luck was again on Strauss's side when, in trying to tuck Gayle off his hips, he looped the ball just wide of short midwicket.

England soon got the scoreboard ticking over nicely but once more Shah's running between the wickets left much to be desired.

Strauss drove Lionel Baker and called a single but Shah remained static at the non-striker's end, only escaping a run out after Simmons misfielded at mid-off.

Unfortunately for Shah, he was then forced to leave the field with severe cramp in his left hand.

That brought Pietersen to the crease but it was only thanks to the TV referral option that he was spared a duck.

The former captain was adjudged lbw to part-time left-armer Nash but he referred umpire Russell Tiffin's decision and, with the delivery shown to have pitched outside leg stump, it was overturned by third umpire Aleem Dar.

However, that merely proved a stay of execution for Pietersen, who was flummoxed by slow left-armer Hinds in the space of two balls - the first spitting to beat his outside edge and the second staying straight to knock back his middle stump.

That prompted the umpires to call an early tea interval, which England reached on 156-2, and soon after the break Strauss completed his third ton of the series and fifth of the winter.

He was made to wait but eventually worked Gayle to cover for a single to bring up the landmark and continued positively thereafter.

Strauss was ably supported by Collingwood, who was consistently ruthless in his treatment of Powell before the inconsistent seamer was pulled out of the firing line.

But with a disciplined combination of Hinds and Gayle finding occasionally vicious turn, the pair advanced cautiously and the run rate dropped to around three runs per over.

Collingwood passed 50 for the 13th time in Tests and, despite being squared up by a reverse-swinging Fidel Edwards delivery late on, he and Strauss comfortably ushered England to stumps.

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
06 Mar 09 |  England
West Indies v England photos
06 Mar 09 |  Cricket
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England


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