Sat, Feb 28, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Strauss century puts England on top

CAPTAIN’S INNINGS Andrew Strauss hit 142 and Alastair Cook scored 94 as they established a new record opening partnership for England against the West Indies

AFP , BRIDGETOWN

England captain Andrew Strauss is clean bowled by Daren Powell of the West Indies during the first day of the fourth Test in Bridgetown on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Andrew Strauss hit his second century of the series to lead another formidable England batting performance in the fourth Test against the West Indies on Thursday.

Strauss struck 142 — his 16th Test century — and shared a record opening stand with his deputy Alastair Cook that allowed England to reach 301 for three in their first innings when stumps were drawn on the opening day.

The England captain reached his century when he struck his 150th ball from Sulieman Benn over midwicket for a six onto the roof of the Greenidge and Haynes Stand.

He gained admirable support from Cook in a stand of 229 that established a new England first wicket record against the West Indies. But Strauss was one of three wickets that the hosts claimed in the final period to help them end the day strongly. Cook also fell for 94 and Owais Shah for 7.

England were fortunate when they won the toss and chose to bat on a typically hard, true Kensington Oval pitch.

Strauss and Cook then gave them a memorable start when they reached 108 without loss at lunch.

Strauss reached 50 from 71 balls, when he drove Benn through cover for his eighth boundary, but it appeared to be a nervous period for the England captain.

The ball after he reached the milestone, he edged Benn past a diving Devon Smith at slip for his ninth four, and then on 58, he was dropped by West Indies captain Chris Gayle at first slip off Fidel Edwards. But Strauss soon settled again, and with Cook unflappable at the other end, also hitting only his second six in Tests, they continued to give England a solid base.

After lunch, Strauss and Cook continued to pile the pressure on the West Indies when they took England to 221 without loss.

But in the third over after tea, England lost Strauss when Daren Powell bowled him with the perfect in-swinging yorker. He had batted for 4 hours, 10 minutes and struck 18 fours and one six from his 210 balls.

Five overs later, England suffered another setback when Cook was caught at midwicket off Jerome Taylor miscuing a hook at a short, rising ball after batting a little more than 4 hours, 30 minutes.

Paul Collingwood, 11 not out, and Pietersen, 32 not out, batted the rest of the way to ensure England went pass the 300-run mark.

■S AFRICA v AUSTRALIA

AFP, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Captain Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke shared a century partnership as Australia fought back after a poor start on the first day of the first Test against South Africa at the Wanderers on Thursday.

Australia were 254 for five when bad light stopped play.

Ponting (83) and Clarke (68) put on 113 for the fourth wicket with attacking stroke play after Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel reduced the tourists to 38 for three.

Although Ponting and Clarke were out in fairly quick succession, new cap Marcus North (47 not out) and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (37 not out) put on an unbeaten 72 for the sixth wicket to continue the Australian recovery.

Steyn took three for 82, but it was a disappointing day for the South African bowlers in humid, overcast conditions that favored swing bowling.

The South Africans were hampered by a back injury to all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who bowled only four overs before leaving the field for two hours.

Steyn dismissed both Australian openers cheaply, including new cap Phil Hughes, who was caught behind for a four-ball duck in the first over. Simon Katich fell for 3 to a diving catch by Neil McKenzie at gully.

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