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Strauss, Cook give England fine start

cricket Updated: Feb 26, 2009 23:29 IST

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Andrew Strauss hit a crisp half-century before lunch as England reached 108 without loss on the first day of the fourth Test against West Indies on Thursday.

The England captain was not out on 71 and his deputy Alastair Cook was not out on 37 at the interval at Kensington Oval.

The two openers helped themselves to easy runs, after England chose to bat on a hard, true Kensington Oval pitch.

Strauss reached 50 from 71 balls, when he drove Sulieman Benn through cover for his eighth boundary, but it appeared to be a nervous period for the England captain.

The ball after he reached the milestone, Strauss edged Benn past a diving Devon Smith at slip for his ninth four, and then on 58, he was dropped by West Indies captain Chris Gayle at first slip off Fidel Edwards.

But Strauss soon settled again, and with Cook unflappable at the other end, they continued to give England a solid base.

England made three changes to their side from the drawn third Test with Ravi Bopara, Tim Ambrose, and Ryan Sidebottom replacing Andrew Flintoff, Matt Prior, and Steve Harmison.

West Indies were unchanged, and they lead the five-Test series 1-0, following an innings and 23-run victory in the opening Test at Sabina Park.