England Test captain Andrew Strauss warmed up for next week’s first Test against India by scoring a quick-fire 78 as Somerset reached 329-2 against the tourists at Taunton on Friday.
Strauss has made a brief loan move to Somerset from Middlesex in the hope of rediscovering his form after a miserable run during England’s recent Test series win over Sri Lanka.
The switch paid dividends as Strauss shared a 101-run partnership with Arul Suppiah before the opener was dismissed by Amit Mishra shortly before lunch on the opening day of the three-day match.
Strauss scored just 27 runs in three Tests against Sri Lanka and, with Middlesex’s fixtures offering little chance for first-class action, he decided to take the risk of giving India’s bowlers a chance to dent his morale ahead of the start of the first Test at Lord’s.
He struck 11 boundaries and brought up his half century from just 63 balls, although he did survive an lbw appeal from Indian seamer Zaheer Khan when he had scored only 20.
Strauss escaped again on 64 when Wriddhiman Saha, the reserve wicketkeeper playing in place of the rested MS Dhoni, dropped an edge off Mishra.
However, Saha took the next chance when an edge bobbled off the pad, ending Strauss’s innings on 78 from 98 balls.
"It was an honour to bat with the England captain and he looked in very good nick to me," said Suppiah.
"He was moving his feet really well and striking the ball out of the middle. I’d definitely back him to get runs in the Tests because he left the ball well, hit straight very effectively and looked hungry for a big score."
India’s bowlers found it hard going during 75 overs of action on a rain-interrupted day at Taunton and Somerset look on course to score a huge first innings total.
Suppiah was India’s chief tormentor and finished the day on 145 not out after hitting 14 fours and one six.
Nick Compton also weighed in with 88 before India’s Suresh Raina had him caught by Yuvraj Singh just before the close with the score on 324.
Zaheer is the only one of the India attack taking on Somerset who is certain to play at Lord’s, with Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar rested following their workload in the recent Test series against the West Indies.
Although bowlers Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Munaf Patel failed to stake a claim to start at Lord’s, a strong Indian batting line-up featuring Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid will fancy their chances of responding with a big total of their own.(AFP)