There was a lot of talk before the series about how well England will bat against the Indian spinners. There was also that mock branding of the series by the official broadcasters. But much like how the branding backfired in the 2012 series, it seems to have fallen flat on their faces so far. Just like the previous three sessions, England dominated the second session of the second day as well to reach a massive 537 before being bowled out at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday (November 10). Ben Stokes, England's No.6 was finally dismissed for 128 after being handed a number of repreives while Stuart Broad remained unbeaten on 6.
Even as the ball was turning, and the bounce and pace was true, the English batsmen had little trouble playing their strokes. There were a few outlandish shots attempted by Ben Stokes, which gave India some hope, but the ball kept dropping in no man's land. Virat Kohli was all over the place, diving, throwing and attempting impossible catches. Unfortunately, nothing came his way.
Much unlike how the session ended, with drooping shoulders in the field, India came out as a much rejuvenated outfit after the Lunch break. In the first over after Lunch, Ravindra Jadeja had Chris Woakes poking at a delivery that held its line. Wriddhiman Saha took the catch to send the seventh English batsman back to the pavilion.
Adil Rashid's stay at the crease didn't last too long. And while it did, he was struggling to middle the ball. Not surprisingly, his fall was caused by mistimed slog which was well caught by Umesh Yadav at mid-on while running to his right. It was a good point for India to turn the tables and wipe off the remaining batsmen. However, England don't exactly have a tail. Stuart Broad, who came out to bat at No 11, has a batting average of over 22 and also a match-winning Test century to his name. In fact, playing in his 100th Test, this was the first time he walked out to bat as a No 11. And thus, the non-existing tail wagged.
With two left-handers - Zafar Ansari and Stokes - in the middle, Ravindra Jadeja was taken off the attack and Amit Mishra proved ineffective. Ravichandran Ashwin did manage to trouble Stokes and Ansari, but couldn't break the stand. The duo worked the ball around gaps, tired the fielders in the Rajkot heat and put on a 52-run stand for the ninth wicket.
Stokes, who struck 13 boundaries and two sixes, strode to his century on the back of couple of dropped chances and fortunate edges. His innings came to an end in two hours into the second session when he edged a delivery down the leg side to the wicketkeeper. His fourth Test century became the third ton of the English innings. With only one wicket remaining, the session was extended for half an hour, before the tourists eventually folded up for 537. Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers, picking up three wickets for 65 runs.
Earlier in the day, Moeen Ali and 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 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.
Mohammed Shami 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, 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 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.
Brief Scores: England 537 (Ben Stokes 128, Joe Root 124, Moeen Ali 117; Ravindra Jadeja 3-86, Mohammed Shami 2-65) vs India.