Strauss urges England patience
Andrew Strauss called on England to bide their time if they are to claim the nine wickets needed to win the opening Test against India in Chennai.
The opening batsman registered his second century of the match as England declared on 311 for nine on the fourth day, setting the hosts an improbable 387 to win.
Virender Sehwag’s blistering 83 from 68 balls propelled India to 131 for one by the close, and left them needing a further 256 on the final day to pull off the fourth highest run-chase in Test history.
But Strauss believes England’s spinners, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, who removed Sehwag late in the final session, can take advantage of a wearing pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
"I think we are in a pretty strong position”, said Strauss, who hit 108 to go with his first-innings 123.
“The way the wicket is behaving suggests there is going to be at least nine wicket-taking opportunities for us. The way the ball is turning and bouncing there are going to be opportunities there.
“We just need to take them tomorrow, be patient and not chase the game too much. I'm sure we have a great chance of winning.”
On the state of the wicket, he added: "I think it is deteriorating a lot, although it would be nicer if it was playing a little quicker, then it would be even harder to play.
"But there is definitely enough there for us. If we do the right things and remain patient we have a good chance.
"The Indians are used to batting in these conditions so it is not going to be easy, but I'd prefer to be in our position rather than theirs."
Strauss revealed his pride at reaching three figures for the second time in the game, becoming only the 10th Englishman to achieve such a feat.
He shared a crucial 214-run stand for the fourth wicket with Paul Collingwood, who also made 108, as the visitors recovered from the depths of 43 for three yesterday.
"I was very satisfied to get that second hundred," Strauss admitted. "I've never done that before in first-class cricket and given the circumstances before the game I'm pretty proud to have achieved that - also to get us into a nice position alongside Colly."
Strauss praised the efforts of Collingwood, who struggled for form during the recent one-day series in India.
"Those sort of circumstances bring out the best in Colly,” he said. “He was at his best today, the way he scampered and put them under pressure.
"It was brilliant to see him back among the runs and that underlines his value to the England team."
India opener Gautam Gambhir, however, remains confident that the hosts can build on the momentum supplied by Sehwag when they resume their chase tomorrow.
The left-hander was unbeaten on 41 at the close, having put on 117 with Sehwag in just 23 overs.
"There's a lot there for the spinners,” Gambhir conceded. “All three results are possible, but we are really optimistic of chasing down that total tomorrow.
"He (Sehwag) has set the game up for us with the way he batted. The 260 that we need now is a very attainable total."
Gambhir admitted he was prepared to play an understudy's role as Sehwag launched his assault against the new ball.
"It is a pleasure watching him bat from the non-striker's end," he said.
"My job became really easy because bowlers are on the defensive so I think the way he batted has put us on the front foot.
"We won one-day series 5-0 and we are very confident from that. We wanted to take that confidence into the Test series as well.
"We did not bat well in the first innings but we are all confident of doing the job."
Sehwag added: "I was just playing my shots, normal batting, I wasn't going after any bowler but they were giving me width to cut.
"I think we're in a good position to win this game and we will go for a win tomorrow.
"We have to try to bat 90 overs and if we do that we can score 250/260 runs - the pitch is still good to bat on if you get settled, it's less than three an over."