England v India - rain thwarts England progress

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport at The Oval
Fourth Test, The Oval (day one):
England 75-0 v India
Match scorecard
Captain Strauss guides a shot to the boundary as England dominate the first session
Strauss guides a shot to the boundary as England dominate the first session

England took advantage of some insipid India bowling to cruise to 75-0 on a rain-hit opening day of the fourth Test at The Oval.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat in overcast conditions, Andrew Strauss scored 38 and Alastair Cook 34 in the morning session before heavy showers prevented any more play after lunch.

Five days after surrendering the series and their number one Test ranking with an innings defeat at Edgbaston, India's cricket once again lacked intensity and purpose.

While James Anderson's recovery from a thigh injury allowed England to name an unchanged team, India were forced into a rethink by the loss of their leading wicket-taker Praveen Kumar, who was struck on the thumb during his 40-run batting cameo on the final day in Birmingham.

However it was not this injury which prevented him from playing but pain in his right ankle. His replacement RP Singh was handed the new ball despite not having played a Test for three years or any first-class cricket since January.

The left-arm seamer, who took 12 wickets in three Tests during India's 2007 tour of England, promptly dragged his first delivery well down the leg side to set the tone for another miserable morning for India.

Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers, maintaining a probing line and rattling Strauss with a bouncer that took a chunk out of the peak of his helmet.

But he received little support from the other end, with Sreesanth particularly ineffective, conceding 26 runs from his six overs as Cook lifted his Test average above 50.

England batting coach Graham Gooch summed up the day's weather frustration.

"The Oval is always an historic Test match," he said. "There was a fantastic crowd in here today so it's disappointing we've had the autumn-like weather.

"We were very lucky to get a start after the weather forecast, but it was disappointing because you want to end this Test on a high note.

"We won the toss and elected to bat, which I thought was the right decision. Although it was overcast, the wicket looked good. Obviously it could move around but it can do that at any Test match on the first day, but they applied themselves well.

"We're very happy with that position. You're trying to build a platform for the middle order to go on and get a big score so to go the first session without losing a wicket was ideal."

England will be hoping to rack up an imposing first-innings score as they look to complete their first series whitewash of India since 1974.