Two dropped catches and several misfields helped England pile on the pressure over India in the morning session of the second day of the first Test of the five-match series at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday (November 10). England added 139 runs in the first two hours of play and went to Lunch at 450 for 6 with another session going the way of the tourists.
Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes, unbeaten overnight, resumed England's charge aggressively. In the first over of play, Moeen worked the ball around for a single to bring up his fourth Test hundred, and his first outside home. It helped matters that India misfielded twice in 10 minutes to allow the balls to make their way to the boundary. Umesh Yadav was a bit erratic with his line, allowing the two left-handers to take complete advantage. As many as 32 runs were scored in the first 27 minutes of play to put India on the backfoot early.
Even as the spinners - Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra - were getting turn off the wicket, the footwork of the English batsmen seemed well-placed to come to the pitch of the ball and score off it. There were rarely any bad balls that went unpunished.
If at all there was any bowler who caused some trouble, or gave any hope of bringing about the breakthrough, it was Mohammed Shami. The Bengal pacer bowled a tight line and kept the scoring shots in check. The nagging line eventually paid off as Moeen misjudged the line and left a ball coming in from around the wicket. Left undisturbed, the ball went on to uproot the stumps and bring an end to the left-hander's innings.
Moeen's wicket brought about a period of lull, but that too wasn't to last for long. Twice in one over (113th over) by Umesh, Wriddhiman Saha dropped Stokes (while batting on 60). Thereafter, Bairstow and Stokes broke free and counter-attacked. In the process, they also gave India a few half chances, but there was nothing substantial to please the hosts.
Fifteen minutes before the Lunch break, India were teased with two close chances. The first one was a pull which bounced off Murali Vijay's shin guard at forward short leg to fall just in front of a diving Virat Kohli at short midwicket. The next ball, he mistimed a pull to the mid on region. But Ravindra Jadeja, the fielder stationed there, went for it late and had the ball falling in front of him, leaving evidently Kohli furious.
Nonetheless, with the sixth-wicket stand closing in on the century mark, Shami managed to induce an edge off Bairstow's bat to hand Saha his first catch of the match, and India their sixth wicket.
Jadeja remained largely unused by the skipper with left-hander Stokes going strong from one end. The all-rounder took complete advantage of the dropped catches and raced away to an unbeaten 84 by the end of the session.
Brief Scores: England 450/6 (Joe Root 124, Moeen Ali 117; Mohammed Shami 2/51, Ravichandran Ashwin 2-138) vs India.