Rajkot: Indian spinners were taken to the cleaners by the English batsmen as the visitors posted a mammoth 537 on the second day of the opening cricket Test at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium at Rajkot on Thursday.
India made a cautious start reaching 63 for no loss with openers Murali Vijay (25 not out) and Gautam Gambhir (28 not out) at the crease.
England's first innings total was their third-highest ever in this country, showing their batsmen were in total control against Indian spinners especially Ravichandran Ashwin, who conceded 167 runs in 46 overs taking only two wickets.
Amit Mishra fared no better, having being hit for 98 runs in 23.3 overs.
India still need 275 more runs to avoid following on, on a track showing increasing signs of wear and tear after its easy-paced nature on day one yesterday.
The hosts also trailed the visitors by a massive 474 runs with all ten wickets in hand going into day three on Friday. Both faced testing spells of fast bowling and probing spin bowling to remain unbeaten for carrying on the daunting task faced by the home team.
Vijay had faced 70 balls, striking four fours - three of which came in one over of Stuart Broad.
Gambhir, playing his second Test on the trot after his recall from hibernation, struck four fours in his 68-ball knock as they batted out the shortened last session of play.
Earlier, New Zealand-born England all rounder Ben Stokes became the third century maker in the visitors’ first innings after Joe Root on Wednesday and Moeen Ali on Thursday morning.
The tourists, in particular Stokes who made an attacking 128 which was the innings highest score, batted right down the order to post the massive total before being all out to end the extended session two.
England's total revolved mainly around Root’s classical, foundation-laying 124 on day one, Ali’s attractive knock of 117 the enterprising hundred by Stokes against a listless Indian bowling attack that was plundered for a massive 139 runs in 30 overs in the pre-lunch period.
Only the 652 made in 1984-85 in Chennai and 559 for 8 declared at Kanpur repeat Kanpur made way back in 1963-64 topped the total raised by England in this city, hosting its first-ever Test. This was also the first instance after 2009 by Sri Lanka in Motera that three visiting team’s players triple digit scores.
Stokes, who struck 2 sixes and 13 fours in his 235-ball knock, departed just before the scheduled tea interval and England lost their last wicket, that of Zafar Ansari for 32 during the extended second session to be all out after posting their third-best innings total in India.
Amit Mishra trapped Ansari leg before on the sweep shot to bring the innings to a close after England had batted for nearly ten-and-a-half hours.
Earlier, the Indian bowlers appeared clueless on how to dismiss the left-handed Stokes who was finally out to a diving catch to his right by wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha off Umesh Yadav.
Saha had earlier put down Stokes in successive overs of Yadav in his second spell, when the batsman on 60 and 61 respectively.
India had let off rival captain Alastair Cook, debutant Haseeb Hameed and Ali on Wednesday.
In the morning session, the visitors scored at will after England resumed at last evening’s score of 311 for four and advanced to 450 for six.
The batsmen out before lunch were overnight unbeaten batsman Ali who duly completed his career’s fourth Test century after being one short of the landmark at stumps on day one, and Jonny Bairstow, who made a quickfire 46 off 57 balls.
Both wickets were claimed by pace bowlers – Shami and Yadav.
Ali was out in a somewhat fortuitous manner for the home side that looked bereft of ideas as he shouldered arms to an angled-in ball from Shami and lost his off stump.
Wicketkeeper Bairstow chased a wide ball from Yadav and was caught behind low down by Saha to his right after he had grassed two catches off Stokes in successive overs from the same bowler earlier.
Stokes and Bairstow put on a brisk stand of 99 for the sixth wicket in just 80 minutes and 127 balls against some mediocre bowling performance before the latter got out chasing a wide ball.
Ali, the second century maker in the innings after No 3 batsman Root on Wednesday, batted for just over four-and-a-half hours and struck 13 fours.
Ali, who added 179 runs for the fourth wicket with Root on Wednesday, put on a further 62 runs in 87 minutes and 113 balls with the left-handed Stokes for the fifth wicket.
Post lunch India did manage to control the run flow and also grabbed two quick wickets through the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja, who had bowled just one over late in the first session, before England pressed on further to grind the home team’s insipid attack.
The local boy struck in the very first over after resumption of play when he had Chris Woakes poking at a wide ball and edging to wicketkeeper Saha after the addition of just one run to the lunch score of 450.
Jadeja was into his wicket taking act again six overs thereon to send back Adil Rashid who was caught at mid-on by Yadav and India appeared to have a good chance to restrict England under 500 at the fall of the eighth wicket at 465. This was not to be as the New Zealand-born Stokes not only completed his century, after carrying on from his lunch score of 84 to become the England innings’ third centurion after Root and Ali but also added 62 runs for the ninth wicket with Ansari to take the score past the 500 mark.
The 25-year-old Stokes, who was not afraid to come down the wicket to the spinners, completed the fourth century of his career with a four off Jadeja, his 12th of the innings added to one six, in 222 minutes and 173 balls.
Also inexplicably Jadeja did not get to bowl his left-arm slow stuff till 15 minutes to lunch by which time 26 overs had been gone by in the morning. He was then replaced after one over before resuming his bowling at the start of session two.
The left-arm spinner emerged the most impressive bowler with figures of 3 for 86, while premier spinner Ashwin was the most expensive and gave away 167 runs for his two wickets after bowling 46 overs.
Speedsters Mohammed Shami (2 for 65) and Yadav (2 for 112) got among the wickets, while leg spinner Mishra got the final wicket to fall and gave away 98 runs.