CRICKET

Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali star as England post 537 in first cricket test against India

Impressive centuries see tourists record highest score by a visiting side in nearly five years

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 10:53pm

Centurion Moeen Ali said patience was the key as England posted the highest score by a visiting team in nearly five years on the second day of the first cricket test against India in Rajkot on Thursday.

England’s first innings score of 537 was built around Ali’s 117 and an impressive 128 runs by Ben Stokes, who managed to banish memories of three ducks against India in his three previous innings.

India’s openers responded with an unbeaten stand of 63 in the final session, the hosts trailing by 474 runs with all their wickets intact.

The stylish Joe Root (124) had notched up a century on the opening day to lay a solid foundation for England’s middle-order batsmen.

The day belonged to England’s batsmen who made India work hard on an easy-paced track.

“Patience is something Saqi [spin coach Saqlain Mushtaq] talks about a lot, we knew we needed to be patient,” said Ali, 29.

“It’s a very good pitch. I knew if I batted for 200 balls I would surely make a hundred ... we didn’t plod much against the spinners and tried to be attacking in our approach,” said Ali.

Stokes hit 13 fours and two sixes on route to his fourth ton in the longest format of the game.

India’s bowlers struggled in the heat and grime, with top-ranked spinner Ravichandran Ashwin conceding 167 runs while taking just two wickets.

But left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was quick to spring to Ashwin’s defence, saying any bowler can have an off-day.

“It’s part of the game. We were playing five bowlers. It is the responsibility of every bowler and not just Ashwin to take wickets,” said Jadeja.

“Sometimes half-chances get converted and on some days easy chances are dropped.”

But at least five dropped catches and some sloppy fielding underlined a miserable day for the Indians before their home fans.

England were on the attack in the morning session, hammering 139 runs while losing two wickets including that of Ali who was bowled by Mohammed Shami (2-65).

Jonny Bairstow, the highest test run-scorer this year, made 46 and shared a brisk 99-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Stokes before also falling to Shami.

Stokes was dropped twice in his sixties by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha with Umesh Yadav (2-112) being the unlucky bowler on both occasions.

England’s total was the highest by a visiting team in India since the West Indies made 590 at Mumbai in November 2011.

And the last time three visiting batsmen scored centuries in the same innings in India was in 2008-09 when Sri Lanka toured the country.