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Strauss and Suppiah torment India

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Andrew Strauss

England Test captain Andrew Strauss, guesting for Somerset in the tour match against India, is soon into his stride en route to 78

Andrew Strauss made the most of his guest appearance for Somerset as India's bowlers were given a harsh lesson on the opening day of their tour.

The England captain, playing at Taunton on loan in a bid to find form ahead of the npower Test series, hit 78 off 98 balls, including 16 morale-boosting fours.

Strauss survived a confident lbw shout from left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan on 20 and was dropped by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha off Amit Mishra on 64, but otherwise capitalised on a flat pitch to demonstrate an array of positive shots all around the wicket.

His efforts helped Somerset to a dominant 329 for two on a rain-interrupted day. Arul Suppiah hit an unbeaten 145 and Nick Compton 88 as Zaheer, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Yuvraj Singh went wicketless.

When Somerset captain Alfonso Thomas won the toss, Strauss found himself walking out before a packed County Ground crowd in bright conditions made for batting.

He confidently tucked the first ball of the match from Zaheer through midwicket for two and collected a couple more off the second delivery with a push through mid-off.

Zaheer looked to be easing himself back into action after his long break following the Indian Premier League, but gradually increased his pace.

Leg-spinner Mishra offered a bigger threat, particularly with a well disguised googly, and it was he who made the breakthrough with the total on 101 as Strauss inside-edged on to his thigh pad and saw the ball loop up for Saha to take a simple catch.

He had reached his half-century off 63 balls with a series of well-timed drives, pulls and back-foot forcing shots. Three of his fours came in a single over from Sreesanth.

Nick Compton & Arul Suppiah

Arul Suppiah, right, goes to three figures in the company of Nick Compton, with whom he shared a century stand, having done the same with Strauss

Strauss dominated the opening stand with Suppiah, who made only 17 in the morning session, which ended with Somerset 107 for one.

With only a further eight runs added, rain interrupted play for the first time. The players returned to the field at 3.20pm with seven overs lost.

On the resumption, Suppiah came out of his shell, reaching his fifty with an elegant off drive for four off Zaheer. He had faced 122 balls and it was his seventh four.

Compton went to his half-century off 74 balls and India’s problems worsened when Mishra was forced off for attention to a hand injury sustained when dropping a caught and bowled chance offered by Suppiah on 71.

More rain came with the score on 241 for one and Suppiah on 94. Most of the crowd headed home, but there was a resumption at 6pm and the opener went on to three figures off 179 balls, with 11 fours.

Compton looked set to follow him to a hundred, but surrendered his wicket on 88, reverse-sweeping to short third man off Suresh Raina.

Suppiah, who needs seven more runs for his highest first-class score, said: "It was an honour to bat with the England captain and he looked in very good nick to me.

"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.

"It was just unfortunate he didn't go on to get a century. He nicked a ball onto his thigh pad and it ballooned up for him to be caught behind.

"Nine times out of 10 he would have hit that delivery through the covers for four. Other than that he didn't look in any trouble.

"He was scoring so quickly that I could content myself with knocking the ball around. It got easier for me after lunch and I'm very pleased to have got my first hundred of the season.

"I'm just a few runs away from a career best, so that is something which will be on my mind in the morning."

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