Strauss, Collingwood centuries put England in command (Tea Report)

December 14th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghChennai, Dec 14 (IANS) With Andrew Strauss (108) and Paul Collingwood (108) scoring centuries, England stretched their lead to 376 runs against India and were 301 for eight in their second innings at tea on the fourth day of the first cricket Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Sunday. Opener Strauss completed his second century of the match and in the company of Collingwood, put England in a strong position. The pair ground the Indian attack to near helplessness with a 214-run partnership for the fourth wicket on a pitch that offered some turn, but rather on the slower side.

It was not until the second hour after lunch that the Indians finally tasted success as Strauss played a lazy shot off Harbhajan Singh to offer Laxman a simple catch at covers. A little later, Ishant Sharma bowled an incisive over to Andrew Flintoff, softening the batsman with two short-pitched deliveries before inducing a snick to Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Zaheer Khan, replacing Ishant, then removed Collingwood with an in-dipper, catching the batsman plumb in front and the fast bowler went on to castle Graeme Swann and Steve Harmison at the stroke of tea.

Earlier, the Indian bowlers toiled in hot and humid conditions while both Strauss and Collingwood showed more intent on keeping their wickets intact while making little attempt to force the pace.

There was little to separate the two batsmen in terms of stroke production as both showcased their patience and concentration much more than any appreciable range of strokes.

Strauss reached his second century of the match with a single to midwicket after having batted for 348 minutes and struck seven boundaries.

At the other end, Collingwood, looking equally solid, inched his way to his eighth century in 40 Tests while the 200-run partnership came about in the 66th over.

As the partnership prospered, the Indians grew in desperation, but with the pitch offering precious little encouragement, the chances of taking a wicket lay more in the batsmen committing an error rather than the bowlers forcing one.

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