Strauss tunes up for Lord's with most timely of centuries

Somerset 425-3 dec & 260-2 dec India 224 & 69-0
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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss hit an unbeaten 109 to confirm his return to form as Somerset's tour match with India ended in a draw at Taunton yesterday. Having helped himself to 78 in the first innings, the England Test captain concluded a guest appearance for the county, which could hardly have gone better. He hit 18 fours and a six in a second innings total of 260 for 2 declared.

Peter Trego further dented the confidence of India's attack by blasting 85 not out off 57 balls, striking seven sixes and seven fours while sharing an unbroken stand of 129 with Strauss as Somerset built a lead of 461. India closed on 69 without loss in their second innings. Earlier, Suresh Raina had smashed 103 not out, with five sixes and 14 fours, as the tourists extended their first innings from an overnight 138 for 8 to 224 all out.

But that was a rare bright spot for the Indians in a game that saw them comprehensively outplayed less than a week before the first Test at Lord's. Raina provided the one note of concern for Strauss with some explosive shots that took him to a century off 110 balls.

Perhaps influenced by the England captain, Somerset declined to enforce the follow-on and soon Strauss was taking a second opportunity to rebuild self-belief following his struggles against Sri Lanka.

There was not a semblance of a chance as some meaty pull shots and sweetly-timed drives took him to three figures off 122 deliveries.

After Arul Suppiah followed up his first-innings century with 45 there was disappointment for England Lions captain James Hildreth, who fell for a first-ball duck, edging an Amit Mishra leg-spinner to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. That brought in Trego to face the hat-trick ball. Having survived it, the 27-year-old all-rounder launched a savage assault, which included 28 off an over from Mishra, with four mighty sixes off successive balls.

Trego reached fifty as three Mishra overs went for 61 runs and was denied what looked a certain hundred when Somerset declared at tea.

If India were hoping to salvage something from the game in their second innings, the weather had other ideas with rain twice interrupting their progress before the close.

Strauss' one major selection issue on Thursday is likely to be Tim Bresnan or Stuart Broad. The latter said last night he is confident his match practice with Nottinghamshire has put him on course to help England take on India. "It was obviously useful to go away," Broad said. "I felt I've been bowling quite well throughout the summer but have not had that luck you need to get wickets.

"It's always nice to pick up a five-fer, and I felt I bowled quite nicely against Somerset – a really good side, with the likes of [Marcus] Trescothick, [Craig] Kieswetter and Hildreth in there," he added.