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Strauss returns to form at the right time

Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott enjoyed some fine batting as they prepared for the Test series in Sri Lanka. Both made centuries in the warm-up match against a Sri Lanka Development XI.

It was a particularly satisfying day for the England captain Strauss, who has been under pressure after a slump in batting form during recent Test series. He had an accomplished innings, punctuated by regular boundaries.

After the Sri Lankans had made a first innings total of 431, the England openers responded positively and aggressively, combining for a stand of 197, before Strauss and Trott retired to give other batsmen some time in the middle.

The other batsman under pressure, Ian Bell, might not thank them for the opportunity. He made just 14 before getting out cheaply, continuing a dismal run of form. He looks half the player he was on the triumphant Ashes tour in Australia in the 2010-11 winter.

After the surprising 3-0 whitewash defeat against Pakistan, England are looking to reassert their status as number one Test nation in the series which starts on March 26. The bowlers remain in fine form with Stuart Broad shaking off injury concerns and Steve Finn challenging Tim Bresnan for inclusion. Most of England’s anxieties surround their batting.

Bell’s form is of some concern, although Kevin Pietersen appeared to have rediscovered his touch in the one-day series against Pakistan. With Eoin Morgan dropped, England also have a dilemma about their middle order, with Samit Patel and Ravi Bopara rivals for selection.

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