England made a shaky start to the second day, but got to a sizeable first-innings total courtesy a century stand for the eighth wicket between Adil Rashid and the debutant Liam Dawson. The two came together at 321 for 7, after India had taken three wickets for 37 runs at the start of play, and scored half-centuries that reiterated the depth of England’s batting and lifted their score to 477. Only once – Australia in 2010 – has a team scored more than 450 batting first and lost a Test in India.
India began confidently in reply, reaching 60 for 0 at stumps, their only real moment of discomfort in 20 overs occurring when KL Rahul, jumping back to slash Stuart Broad, jarred some part of his leg, causing him to hobble between wickets for a short while thereafter. The runs came at a steady clip, and the openers picked up five fours between them, in their contrasting styles: mostly off the front foot for the tall, languid Rahul, and mostly off the back foot for Parthiv Patel, who opened because M Vijay had hurt his shoulder while diving to stop the ball at point during the second session.
Playing his first Test, Dawson only bowled one over of left-arm spin. By then, though, he had already made a significant impact, finishing unbeaten on 66, the highest score by an England debutant batting at No. 8.
Dawson and Rashid had begun cautiously before lunch, scoring the first 31 runs of their partnership in 15.2 overs. Dawson had been the dominant partner, shrugging off a nasty welcome to Test cricket – an Ishant Sharma bouncer that followed him as he tried to sway and clattered the badge of his helmet – and moving to 27 with three fours: a flick off Umesh Yadav, a square-cut off R Ashwin, and a cover drive, against the turn, off an Amit Mishra googly. Rashid, in that time, had made 8 off 55 balls.
The roles were reversed somewhat after lunch, as Rashid unshackled his wrists, stepping out to Mishra to whip him through the leg side – on one occasion over the infield to bring up England’s 400 – and driving Ravindra Jadeja for two inside-out boundaries in one over: the first through the covers, the second past point’s right hand. He overtook Dawson, reaching his half-century first, before top-edging an attempted slice off Umesh to the keeper.
Umesh dismissed Rashid for 60 six overs before tea, and Stuart Broad was run-out after the break. He was caught short of the crease at the keeper’s end by a flat throw from Rahul at third man following a mix-up with Dawson. Jake Ball, who hit two big sixes off R Ashwin in one over, was last man out, bowled trying to cut an Amit Mishra googly.
India’s bowlers were impressive at the start of play, with a ball that was only 4.4 overs old. Ashwin struck in the first over of the day, drawing Ben Stokes forward and getting him to reach out at a dipping and sharply spinning offbreak to get him caught behind. Then Ishant Sharma, defying the age of the ball, began getting it to reverse, producing a series of awkward induckers against Jos Buttler, two of which led to loud lbw shouts. The first one was turned down – and India reviewed unwisely, the ball clearly striking pad outside off stump – and the second, off a full, straight ball, was so plumb, Buttler’s head falling over as he missed a flick, that the batsman barely thought of reviewing.
Moeen Ali now held the key to England’s hopes of a big total, but he wasn’t looking like a man batting on 120 overnight. This had a lot to do with India’s method of attack against him. They hadn’t tested him with the short ball on day one, puzzlingly, but now they did. He played two uppish pulls against Ishant that dropped short of fielders in the deep, and an attempt to flick the ball against Umesh Yadav resulted in a blow to the chest.
Umesh’s next ball was another bouncer, which struck Moeen on the armpit as he looked to ride the bounce and keep it down. Perhaps the lack of success with two attempts at defence caused Moeen to change his mind and revert to the pull. Umesh bounced him once more, and this time the ball carried nicely to Ravindra Jadeja, who was a few yards in from the backward square leg boundary, placed with the miscontrolled hook in mind.