India make solid start after England reach 537


Rajkot, India (AP) — India’s openers Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay made a solid start to India’s first innings on day two of the first test, reaching 63-0 at stumps in reply to England’s 537. India trail by 474 runs with all their wickets intact on a wicket that offered little support to seam or spin.

India’s Gautam Gambhir, left, bats during the second day of the first test against England in Rajkot, India, Thursday, Nov. 10. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
India’s Gautam Gambhir, left, bats during the second day of the first test against England in Rajkot, India, Thursday, Nov. 10. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

At stumps, Vijay was on 25, while Gambhir was 28 not out. The opening duo didn’t look in any discomfort negotiating the final session of play.

Seamers Stuart Broad (0-20) and Chris Woakes (0-17) shared the new ball, but spin was introduced in the sixth over as Moeen Ali (0-6) came on to bowl. Zafar Ansari (0-3) and Adil Rashid (0-8) also bowled short spells as England sought a breakthrough.

Vijay faced 70 deliveries and hit four fours. Gambhir also hit four fours, facing 68 deliveries. They scored at a comfortable pace of just under three runs per over, and brought up the 50-partnership off 95 balls.

England’s innings featured three centuries, from Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes.

Ali (117) and Stokes (128) guided England to their third highest total in test cricket on Indian soil.

It was the first time since 2012-13 that a visiting team had crossed the 500 barrier in India. England were also the last team to do it when they scored 523 runs in Kolkata.

Spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali was happy with the collective efforts of the middle order, especially after the collapse in Dhaka when England lost to Bangladesh.

“We have changed our mentality a bit and want to spend some time on the pitch. Batting at no.5 allows me to do that. I can work on the time needed to bat and play for singles. I enjoy such situations,” said Ali.

He was also full of praise for teammate Stokes, whose attacking display helped England accelerate the scoring rate. It could have an impact on the game as a wearing pitch comes into focus.

“Stokes can play different types of innings and we have seen that in different conditions over the last year. Today was a perfect innings. He was playing with freedom, and hit some fearless strokes. He is becoming a fantastic all-rounder,” said Ali.

Ali reached his fourth test hundred off 195 balls. He put on 62 runs for the fifth wicket with Stokes. Mohammed Shami (2-65) then bowled Ali as he inexplicably shouldered arms to an incoming delivery.

Keeper Wriddhiman Saha dropped Stokes twice off Umesh Yadav (2-112), making it five drops in this innings for India in total. The all-rounder reached his fourth test hundred off 173 balls. His stay at the crease lasted 235 deliveries, including 13 fours and a six.

Jonny Bairstow (46) added 99 runs for the sixth wicket with Stokes and took England past the 400-mark before lunch. 130 runs came in the morning session, before Saha finally held one to dismiss Bairstow.

Ravindra Jadeja (3-86) struck two quick blows. Chris Woakes (4) was caught behind, and then Adil Rashid (5) skied one to Yadav at mid on.

Both Ali and Jadeja agreed that there wasn’t much in the wicket for bowlers, although it will take some turn later on in the game, with variable bounce becoming a particular threat. Even so, India will be rueing the chances that came their way and were let go.

“It has happened so many times in cricket that you drop someone and that batsman will go on to score a hundred. We got a few chances off Stokes; a couple were dropped and others didn’t go to hand. It’s a part of the game,” said Jadeja.