India’s batsmen would have to watch out for variable bounce more than prodigious turn on a Rajkot wicket which was at its best for batting on the first two days, England centurion Moeen Ali said on Thursday. Following Joe Root’s century on Wednesday, Moeen and Ben Stokes completed their hundreds on the second day as England piled up 537 runs in their first innings after winning the toss.
India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two wickets before lunch on the opening day but hardly troubled the English batsmen thereafter during the next four sessions the touring side batted.
Though left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja picked up three wickets and leg-spinner Amit Mishra took one, there was hardly any assistance from the docile wicket for the slow bowlers.
“It’s a very good pitch, yesterday and today was very nice for batting. I think the bounce will be a problem,” Moeen, whose 117 was his fourth Test hundred, told reporters.
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“I think it’s going to get little bit lower. The cracks are opening up a little bit. There was also a bit more spin (when England bowled) as you saw tonight.”
Moeen, who himself bowls off-spin, refused to be critical of his Indian counterparts and said England’s batsmen had rather handled them better.
“The good thing is we made them bowl a lot of overs,” said the 29-year-old. “I think we are pleased with the way we played spin. I know there wasn’t much spin but we didn’t just prod around.
“We used our feet, went back and forth and also took the attacking option. I think the wickets are going to get tougher through the series.”
Moeen said he was guilty of throwing away his wicket in the past but was working harder on his own batting and taking more responsibility.
“My aim is to always bat 200 balls and if I can bat 200 balls then I will score a hundred. That’s what I tell myself,” he added.
Moeen was effusive in his praise for Stokes, who made 128, and said the all-rounder can mould his batting according to situations.
He referred to Stokes’ knock of 258 off 198 balls in Cape Town in January against South Africa during which he smashed 30 boundaries and 11 sixes.
“I think we’re going to see so much of him with different innings throughout his career,” Moeen said.
“Today was perfect. I know he chanced his arm a little bit but when you play with that freedom and fearless approach you’ll get away with it a lot more.
“He’s becoming a fantastic all-rounder.”