Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 22 News List

England in control of the opening test match against India

AP , NAGPUR, INDIA AND AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Opener Alastair Cook moved toward his second successive half-century on debut Friday, putting England in control of the opening test match against India.

Cook's unbeaten 47, and his unbroken 58-run partnership with Kevin Pietersen (45 not out), took England to 155 for two at tea on the fourth day, bolstering the tourists' lead to 225 after adding their 70-run lead in the first innings.

England had scored 393 in its first innings and India replied with 323, losing the last wicket Friday for the addition of just one run to the overnight score.

Cook, who made an impressive 60 in his first knock, gave England a sound foundation by putting on 95 runs for the opening wicket with Andrew Strauss.

Strauss posted a 113-minute 46 before becoming the first of left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan's two victims off successive deliveries.

Strauss edged an outswinger to wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni, who also snapped Ian Bell (1) on the first ball of Pathan's next over.

Cook hit four-boundaries from 127 balls in his cautious 3-1/4 hour knock.

England Ashes hero Pietersen, then on 36, survived a caught-and-bowled appeal legspinner Anil Kumble by getting the benefit of doubt as TV umpire Ivaturi Sivaram felt the catch was too close to call.

Pietersen hit eight boundaries off 64 balls and was threatening to surpass Cook.

Resuming at 322 for nine Friday, India's last pair lasted just seven balls before losing No. 11 batsman Shantakumaran Sreesanth (1) lbw to paceman Matthew Hoggard, whose spell of six for 57 is his best in eight tests against India.

England's opening batsmen continued the impressive show from the first innings, putting on their second half-century stand of the test match.

Strauss struck five boundaries off 88 balls during the unbroken 105-minute opening partnership, while Cook's 69-ball knock contained three hits to the fence.

Strauss asserted early authority against the Indian pace attack, cutting Sreesanth to the third-man fence and driving Pathan for four through extra-cover.

Strauss again slashed Sreesanth for a four, and then cover-drove an overpitched delivery from offspinner Harbhajan Singh to the boundary.

Rookie Cook cut Pathan for four backward of point and smote Sreesanth to the extra-cover fence. When Kumble was introduced into the attack, Cook punched him through covers.

New Zealand vs. West Indies

Scott Styris top-scored with 90 as New Zealand was bowled out for 233 after winning the toss in the fifth limited-overs cricket international against the West Indies yesterday.

New Zealand leads the series 4-0 after winning the first match by 81 runs, the second by three wickets, the third by 21 runs and the fourth, at Napier on Wednesday, by 91 runs.

The West Indies produced its best bowling performance of the series Saturday at Eden Park to limit New Zealand to its lowest first-innings total of the tour.

Fidel Edwards bowled a hostile opening spell, dismissing Nathan Astle whom he had previously struck with a steepling bouncer. Ian Bradshaw provided support with a spell of controlled in-swing as New Zealand slumped early to eight for two wickets.

Styris led the recovery, coming to the crease at 59 for three and batting until the 49th over, taking his 90 runs from 119 balls in 148 minutes with four fours.

The New Zealand innings featured several minor cameos, the best from newcomer Ross Taylor, who hit 31 from 29 balls with seven fours.

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