England weather storm in first morning

London: India threatened to seize the early initiative by dismissing Alastair Cook cheaply before England weathered the morning session under difficult batting conditions to reach 43 for one on the opening day of the historic first cricket Test here on Thursday.

Put into bat after the start of the match was delayed by half an hour due to slight drizzle, England lost prolific opener Cook (12) LBW to pace spearhead Zaheer Khan but otherwise did well to weather the storm.

England skipper Andrew Strauss (20) and one-down Jonathan Trott (9) were holding the fort at lunch break at the historic Lord`s which is hosting the 100th Test between the two countries and the 200th Test in cricket annals.

Both India`s new ball bowlers, Zaheer and Praveen Kumar, were excellent with their line and length and extracted considerable seam and swing movement but the England openers were prepared to be engaged in attritional cricket.

The first three overs of the match were maidens as the two bowlers never drifted down the leg-side and kept Indian slip fieldsmen agog in anticipation.

Seeing how well his two bowlers bowled, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni fortified his slip cordon and kept two gullies against the two left-handed openers of England.

The first runs came by way of a cut to point boundary by Cook off Praveen which fielder Harbhajan Singh could not quite cut back into play.

The anticipated Strauss vs Zaheer contest lived up to expectation as the England captain found the Indian left-arm pacer a far more difficult proposition to handle than in the warm-up game against Somerset last week.

Strauss weaved and dodged Zaheer`s seam and swing, angles and darts, and he finally pushed a delivery into covers for a sharp single against the paceman. The single came after Zaheer had locked Strauss up at one end for 14 deliveries.

Despite the excellent bowling, England were solid without being spectacular but for two moments of anxiety. Once Praveen went up for an LBW shout against Cook but the ball had pitched beyond the leg stump.

The second chance was a close call as Cook pushed Zaheer to mid on in seventh over and took a step out of his crease only to find Strauss rushing down from the non-striker`s end.

Ishant Sharma at mid on fielded the ball but could not bring down the stumps with Strauss stranded by a few metres from the sanctity of his non-striker`s crease.

Zaheer was almost at the end of his first spell when he got a ball to straighten up and hit Cook on the pads who missed an attempted flick. Up went the Indian fielders in appeal and umpire Asad Rauf sided with them to give England their first jolt.

Cook batted for 45 minutes and 36 balls for his 12 runs and hit a boundary. This is the first time in last seven innings when Cook has failed to pass fifty for England.

Zaheer gave himself one more over before ending his first spell with excellent figures of 7-3-9-1.

Strauss broke the shackles when Ishant Sharma, replacing Zaheer from the nursery end, bowled a short and wide delivery and the left-hander gleefully cut it ferociously for a four.

It was the 48th ball he faced for his first four.

Jonathan Trott, the new man, was never in discomfort, and helped himself to a boundary off Ishant, flicking him to fine leg and into the pickets.

Dhoni brought on Harbhajan Singh in the 19th over to switch ends for Ishant and was almost immediately rewarded with his first ball of the summer, a straightish delivery which took the edge of Trott`s bat and eluded slipsman Rahul Dravid, perhaps standing a tad too back.

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