Indian bowlers came a cropper as Somerset rode on Arul Suppiah’s unbeaten century and an equally fluent knock from England skipper Andrew Strauss to pile up a mammoth 329 for two on day one of the three-day warm-up match here today.
Nick Compton contributed with 88 off 136 balls.
Suppiah’s unbeaten 145 off 218 balls and Compton’s knock notwithstanding, the biggest gainer of the day, in the context of the upcoming Test series, was Strauss.
With no match in three weeks and only 27 runs from three Tests in the preceding series against Sri Lanka, Strauss regained form with an authoritative 78 to laid the foundation, before the duo of Suppiah and Compton consolidated the position with a double century stand for the second wicket.
Of the total runs, 90 came from the day’s final 15 overs, largely bowled by part-timers Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh.
Billed as Strauss vs Zaheer Khan contest, the left-handed batsman took the opening day’s honours, but to be fair to the left-arm swing bowler, Zaheer bowled well within himself and was intent on just regaining his rhythm.
Zaheer could consider himself unlucky that a leg-before shout against Strauss wasn’t upheld, with the batsman on 20.
The rest of the bowlers had a lot to play for and in that sense, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Amit Mishra would be disappointed, never mind the bland nature of the pitch, the small ground and the lightning quick outfield.
Mishra, who got the wicket of Strauss, had to leave the field after he was struck in his bowling hand by a fierce back-drive from Suppiah.
The blow was hard enough for Mishra not to finish his 15th over and leave the field with the physio in attendance.
Reports later indicated that there was no fracture.
India, contrary to perception, didn’t pick their best eleven for the game as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma decided to rest.
Strauss began with a couple of couple of boundaries against Zaheer in the first over and followed them up with two pushes down the ground.
Strauss shifted gears after the first hour and smashed an erratic Sreesanth for three fours after the medium-pacer switched his ends.
Two long hops from the Kerala speedster were hit behind square for boundaries and one was guided off his pads to fine leg as Strauss reached his half century with 11 fours from 63 balls.
Patel’s propensity to bowl at least one bouncer per over wasn’t a good idea on a dead track and Strauss made full use of those deliveries.
After flicking and cover driving Mishra for boundaries, Strauss finally fell in the final over before lunch, edging a catch to Wriddhiman Saha who had earlier fluffed a chance.
Strauss made his runs from 98 balls and hit 16 fours from 113 minutes of batting.
Suppiah and Compton then seized control and cut loose in the middle session even though the latter survived a chance at square leg off Sreesanth.
Compton’s dropped chance apart, the Somerset batsmen imposed themselves in impressive style, on a pitch that aided strokeplay.
The stroke of the day came when Compton stretched fully forward to drive Zaheer between extra cover and mid-off for a four.
This was Suppiah’s first century of the season. He has batted for 288 minutes and hit 14 fours and a six.
Compton made his runs from 136 balls and hit 10 fours in 168 minutes of batting.