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Strauss braces up for Zaheer challenge

cricket Updated: Jul 15, 2011 01:08 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
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The jury is divided on Andrew Strauss' decision to turn up for Somerset against India in the tour game. A Middlesex player, the England skipper sought special permission to play the warm-up game.

The England skipper took the step as a desperate measure to kill the mental demons that might have crept in after his poor run against Sri Lanka's left-arm pacer, Chanaka Welegedara, who claimed his wicket thrice in the recently concluded three-Test series.

Left is right for Zak

But, it’s a risk Strauss might repent given the bowler he is going to face at Taunton. To show a left-hand batsman to Zaheer Khan is like waving a red rag to a raging bull.

The Indian left-arm pacer has developed a fearsome reputation against them and built his career teasing and tormenting the tribe. The great Australian opener Matthew Hayden has been snapped seven times, Kumar Sangakkara (6), Graeme Smith (6), Chris Gayle (5), Justin Langer and Katich (4 each). Strauss, himself, five times —three caught, once caught behind and once LBW.

Records prove that the odds are stacked against the England southpaw and the anxiety was palpable in the actions of the 85-Test veteran on Thursday. He was the lone local team player to have nets, having an intense session against the bowling machine.

Strauss will derive confidence from his Bangalore knock (158 off 145 balls) in the World Cup but there also it was Zaheer who finally got him with a peach of a delivery to turn the tide. Anyways, Test cricket will be a different ball game where you cannot plan to play out a bowler as he has the opportunity to keep coming at you.

Even steven

His former coach Duncan Fletcher, who is in the opposite camp now, said it was a 50-50 gamble. “I have huge respect for Strauss for playing in this game. If Zaheer gets him out early, it will help us to carry this in the first Test. All the same, Strauss will also get a chance to get his competitive juices flowing,” said Fletcher.

“I have not played competitive cricket for three weeks. It will be a perfect preparation for the first Test,” reasoned Strauss.