Thursday, 18 August 2011

England openers deny India a breakthrough

 Updated at: 1837 PST, Thursday, August 18, 2011
England openers deny India a breakthrough LONDON: England came through a potentially tricky morning session to be 75 without loss at lunch on the first day of the fourth Test at The Oval here on Thursday as India's attack struggled yet again.

Andrew Strauss, the England captain, was 38 not out and fellow left-hander Alastair Cook 34 not out as the hosts, already 3-0 up in the four-match series, looked to complete a whitewash.

Strauss, fresh from leading England to a crushing innings and 242-run victory at Edgbaston, a win that saw his side replace India at the top of the ICC's Test Championship table, ignored the overcast skies after winning he toss and opted to bat first on a typically good Oval pitch.

England's most concerning moment of the session came when Strauss, on 24, bailed out of a pull shot against an Ishant Sharma bouncer and saw the ball crash into his helmet, breaking a piece of the peak.

But, after calling for a replacement helmet, Strauss was not troubled again by a largely ineffectual India attack.

India, beset by injuries, suffered another blow before the toss when medium-pacer Praveen Kumar, one of their few successes this series, was ruled out with a thumb injury suffered while batting at Edgbaston.

He was replaced by Rudra Pratap Singh, playing his first Test in more than three years and himself only on tour as an injury call-up for fellow left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan, who broke down in the series opener at Lord's.

Cook, fresh from his career-best 294 at Edgbaston, square-cut Singh for four and Strauss on-drove first-change Shanthakumaran Sreesanth down the ground.

And Cook later drove Sharma on the up through the covers for a stylish boundary that left the fielders standing.

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