Sunday 17 December 2017

Strauss plays down duel with Zaheer

Rory Dollard

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss yesterday played down his personal duel with India spearhead Zaheer Khan on the eve of the historic 2,000th Test.

In the first part of the summer, Strauss' struggles against left-arm seam caused some consternation, with Sri Lanka's Chanaka Welegedara dismissing him on three occasions in two Tests for a combined total of just seven runs.

Zaheer is a bowler of the highest calibre and is sure to expose any flaw in technique during the four-match series, which begins with the 100th meeting between the sides at Lord's.

The last time India toured England, Zaheer dismissed Strauss on four occasions, but the batsman settled his nerves in comprehensive fashion last week in a one-off outing for Somerset, making 78 and 109no against the tourists.

"Generally the plan is watch the ball, wait for a bad ball and hit it," he said yesterday, when asked what plans he had to combat India's top seamer.

England have just one selection decision to make, with the fit-again Tim Bresnan vying for Stuart Broad's place.

Sachin Tendulkar comes into the match on 99 international hundreds. That puts the 38-year-old an astonishing 30 centuries ahead of Ricky Ponting, his nearest challenger, and it would be apt indeed if he broke three figures at the home of cricket, where his top score is a paltry 37.

India will be without the injured Virender Sehwag for at least the first two Tests, meaning Abhinav Mukund will open their batting alongside Gautam Gambhir.

Yuvraj Singh will play as the all-rounder and second spinner, with Kevin Pietersen his main target, and there is a late call to be made between Praveen Kumar and Sreesanth.

England v India,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0

Irish Independent

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