Joe Root became the first batsman to score a double ton in his 100th Test as England piled further misery on India on day two of the opening Test at the Chepauk on Saturday (February 6). The England skipper crafted 218 off 377 deliveries, studded with 19 fours and two maximums, and along with Ben Stokes and Co. completely worn the Indian bowlers down. The latter chipped in with a stroke-filled 118-ball 82 and propelled the visiting side to 555/8 in 180 overs at the end of day's play.
The surface has started misbehaving a bit but it's still solid for batting and England made the most of it. Root and Stokes put on 124 runs for the fourth wicket, while Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess too made vital contributions. The Indian bowlers did a decent job on a dead surface but wouldn't be pleased with the fact that they have bowled 19 no-balls so far in the first innings. England have shown no signs of declaration and would probably want to get as many runs as possible in their first essay.
ROOT, STOKES PUT ENGLAND IN COMMANDING POSITION
It was expected that India would come hard in the first session and skipper Virat Kohli commenced the proceedings with two of his best bowlers - Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin. The ace paceman was impressive in his first spell on the second day and bowled with good pace despite the surface being on the slower side. Bumrah mixed his line and length and troubled both Root and Stokes. The fast bowler almost knocked over Stokes with a superb yorker, but the two batsmen managed to see off his first spell.
The battle between Ashwin and Stokes was always going to be fascinating. The offspinner has dismissed Stokes as many as seven times in Test cricket - most by any bowler, but the flamboyant all-rounder announced his arrival by smoking Ashwin down the ground for a maximum. Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma constantly got the ball to reverse back into Root and even hit him on the pads a couple of times. The Indian bowlers actually bowled well and even caused a problem or two but weren't rewarded for their tight bowling.
Stokes was willing to play his shots, while Root was slightly sedate with his approach. The hosts got desperate and lost two reviews in the space of two overs. The one for Stokes off Ashwin was a howler, but Shahbaz Nadeem, who was ordinary on the first day, looked in a good rhythm. There was a rough patch for Nadeem outside off but Stokes took the attack to the left-arm spinner. The ball was turning and bouncing and Stokes was lucky on a couple of occasions. The left-handed batsman was hit on his gloves and pads but countered that by playing slog-sweeps and reverse-sweeps.
Root allowed Stokes to dictate terms who put India further on the back foot. He provided a couple of tough chances but India failed to grab them. He looked edgy for a brief period but managed to get through that phase by taking the attack to the Indian spinners. The duo were watchful against Bumrah, Ishant and Ashwin but scored freely against Nadeem and Washington Sundar. Stokes, in particular, was super aggressive against Nadeem and smacked him for 33 runs off 31 deliveries.
However, it was the left-arm spinner himself who broke the partnership as Stokes finally mistimed a slog-sweep and was caught at deep square leg. With Stokes back in the hut, India managed to put a break on England's scoring rate. Pope took his time to settle in but Root went about his business with full authority. In the process, the stylish right-hander brought up the highest individual score for an England captain in India. Root celebrated the milestone by smoking Ashwin for a maximum and completed his fifth double century. The records kept piling up as Root went past Mike Gatting's score of 207 and registered the highest individual score by an England batsman in India.
Pope (34) played his part and added 86 runs with Root before falling to Ashwin. The right-hander missed a straight delivery and was pinned right in front of the stumps. Root's marathon knock also came to an end in the next over as Nadeem dismissed him lbw. Buttler and Bess kept the scoreboard ticking but it never felt like England were in any mood of declaring today. Sundar would have had Buttler caught behind but the umpire turned down the appeal and India had no reviews left.
Buttler however couldn't capitalise as he was knocked over by Ishant for 30. The right-arm seamer, who has been impressive throughout the innings, then knocked over Jofra Archer on the very next ball but couldn't complete a hat-trick. Ishant got the ball to reverse but also ended up leaking a couple of boundaries in an attempt to get his 300th Test wicket. Bess (28*) was dropped by Rohit Sharma off Sundar but the right-hander chipped in with some crucial runs. Root wanted England to score 600-700 runs in the first innings and the visitors are not far from that.