Strauss focused despite distractions

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss felt the distractions surrounding the first Test in Chennai helped him to record an important century against India.

The build-up to the game has been dominated by the security arrangements after England decided to go ahead with the Test series despite the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

And Strauss, who struck 123 as England finished day one on 229 for five, told Sky Sports 1: "It was funny - I was probably as relaxed as I've felt going into a Test for a long time.

"Maybe all the stuff that's been going on has taken our minds off the pressure of playing in Test cricket. I felt pretty comfortable from ball one."

England made a slow but solid start, reaching lunch on 63 without loss, before pushing on in the afternoon to up the rate for the loss of just Alastair Cook (52).

But things fell apart somewhat in the evening session as Strauss, who was caught and bowled by leg spinner Amit Mishra, was the last of four wickets to fall.

"We could have done without me getting out at the end," said Strauss. "Five wickets is a pretty good effort by them on a flat wicket.

"We've got 220-odd on the board and hopefully we can push on towards 400 tomorrow which won't be a bad effort."

He continued: "Once I got in it was just a case of being very disciplined and not playing too many rash shots.

"I felt really good in the nets coming into the series, our three days in Abu Dhabi was fantastic."

Strauss and Cook played the spin of Mishra and Harbhajan Singh particularly well after lunch, something Strauss feels could be crucial going forward.

"It's important to be busy against the spinners here," he said. "You can't let them bowl over after over at you.

"I think that's going to be the key to the rest of this game and beyond."

Strauss feels England are still capable of reaching the important 400 mark, despite the late wickets.

"I think generally in India you've got to look to get around 400 first innings," he said.