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Before this Test, Ben Stokes’s scores against India read a dismal – 0, 0, 0. That was in England in 2014. In Rajkot on Thursday, the three ducks turned into three-figures for him. Stokes, with his fair share of luck, scored his fourth Test century and first against India in India. What stood out in his innings was the counter-attack he did to Indian bowlers. He had his share of luck and to put down Stokes survivals, here is a list – two dropped catches, two run out chances and a stumping opportunity. But he deserved the hundred.
In propelled England to 537 in the first innings. Earlier in the day, Moeen Ali also brought up his fourth Test hundred before he left one alone that knocked over his off-stump. Zafar Ansari and Jonny Bairstow played important innings of 32 and 46 respectively.
Indian bowlers were once again ineffective throughout the day and bowled too many lose deliveries. Jadeja finished with figures of 3/86 and Shami also picked up three wickets. Ashwin and Umesh two wickets each.
Full marks to England for their effort with the bat. They were calculated in their approach and their footwork against the spinner was a treat to watch. All the centurions – Ali, Stokes and Joe Root – were at ease against spin and kept the scoreboard ticking.
The only highlight of the day for India was the openers response to England’s big score. A solid last session from Gambhir and Murali Vijay saw India reached 63 without any loss at stumps, still trailing England by 474 runs. Gambhir was unbeaten on 28 while Vijay was also unbeaten on 25.
Morning session on the third day holds key for both teams. It’s heading towards a run-feast but some drama early on Day 3 can make the contest, played on a very flat pitch, interesting. Also, the pitch showed signs of slowing down later on Day 2 and can get slower as the match progresses.