|First Test, Hyderabad (day two of five):
|England 246: Stokes 70; Ashwin 3-68, Jadeja 3-88
|India 421-7: Rahul 86, Jadeja 81*; Root 2-77, Hartley 2-131
|India lead by 175 runs
England already face a huge task to get back into the first Test after India built a healthy lead on day two in Hyderabad.
The home side moved to 421-7, 175 ahead of England’s 246 all out on a pitch destined only to get harder for batting.
KL Rahul, dropped on nought in the first over of the day by Ben Foakes, made 86, while Ravindra Jadeja twice overturned being given out to move to an unbeaten 81.
England’s spinners were improved from the assault they endured on the first evening, but still struggled to combine potency with accuracy. Joe Root’s off-breaks were England’s most dangerous weapon.
Root and debutant Tom Hartley each took two wickets, though England were largely relying on Indian indiscretions for their successes.
More worryingly, senior spinner Jack Leach, playing his first cricket since June because of a back injury, bowled only 16 overs in the day because of a knee problem.
Size of England’s task confirmed
England would have been under no illusions as to the magnitude on their task on this tour. Captain Ben Stokes called India a “beast” in this country, where they have not lost a Test series since 2012.
England competed well for the majority of day one and might have felt aggrieved that India had managed to move to 119-1, 127 behind.
The tourists enjoyed the better start to day two – Root removed Yashasvi Jaiswal for 80 in the first over and Hartley got Shubman Gill for his first Test wicket. From there on, though, India took control in front of 28,000 spectators as the country celebrated Republic Day.
How different might the day have been had Rahul been held by Foakes? The Surrey keeper, one of the best glovemen in the world, was picked to hold just this type of chance.
Still, there is no escaping the reality that England’s spinners lack the control, experience and skill of the Indians. There is no shame in that, but if the five-Test series is played out on pitches similar to this one, England will have to hold every half-chance in the field and their batters will have to score mountains of runs.
That work with the bat should begin on Saturday, with the first aim being simply to ensure India have to bat again.
More to follow.