Both the openers have a job in hand to carry on from where they left on Day 2 AFP

After a tough day in the park for the first two sessions, India started their reply on a positive note with the openers Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay leading the way in final session. At stumps on Day Two, India are 63 for no loss, trailing England by 474 runs. Gambhir, who is still embarking on a comeback trail, showed exuberance and patience as his partner Vijay looked solid during his stay in the middle. The two of them gave India just the kind of start that was required chasing England s mammoth 537 but will have to continue to fightback on Day Three as well. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 1st Test at Rajkot.

Starting their innings in the final session, Indian openers ended Day Two by keeping their wickets intact and have, in process, curbed the amount of runs they were trailing by. While Gambhir was unbeaten on 26, Vijay went back unconquered on 24. Both the batsmen started on a positive note and did not give any chance to the English bowlers. Skipper Alastair Cook, who has as many as six bowlers in his ranks, deployed five bowlers today but no one succeeded in breaking the shackles of the Indian openers. All the bowlers barring Stokes, had a shot at opposition’s openers but failed to create any impact.

Gambhir was particularly impressive as his new changed stance bore rich dividends for him while Vijay looked sure of his off stump and left the balls diligently. They were sure of what was happening in the middle and put a price on their wickets. It was a good effort by the openers who were kept on the field for as many as 160 overs by England who piled up 537 in their first innings. Winning the toss, Cook deployed his troops to take guards first as India’s sloppy fielders helped them to 311 for 4 at stumps on Day One. Joe Root slammed a century while Moeen Ali struck a ton early in first session of Day Two.

Ben Stokes carried the torch after Moeen departed as he batted around the tail-enders and did not let the hosts get on top till his stay in the middle. Stokes hit 13 fours and two sixes in his 128-run knock while Ali, who had been unbeaten on 99 overnight, made 117 as England put on board the biggest total by a visiting team in India for nearly five years.

India did pick up a few wickets in quick succession on Day Two but never applied pressure on the Englishmen. They continued to drop catches and fell flat even against Zafar Ansari as he struck a fifty-run stand with Stokes and got out for 32. England, by then, had piled on 537 and will surely feel they have done enough to challenge the Indians. Day Three will be vital as it is always considered in Test cricket. Indians openers should be lauded for not giving much breathing space to England but know they still have a humoungous job in hand. Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha will have to bat well whereas the lower-order will also be expected to come good if India are to reach anywhere close to England’s tally. ALSO READ: India vs England, 1st Test: India reply solidly after England pile up 537

The match is evenly poised for now. India will look to consolidate their position on Day Three, with all 10 of their wickets intact. But they will also be wary of England and expect them to come back hard tomorrow. England, with six bowlers at their disposal, will look to get some early wickets on Day Three and keep their hold on the match. India, though owning that last session on Day Two, still have a stiff ask and will have to work hard to get their runs, even if the pitch has runs hidden in it. There was some cracks noticed as well when Moeen bowled and it shows how difficult it will become for the side batting fourth. India will have to continue being in the hunt if they do not want to concede a big lead which may curb their chances of staging a comeback.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)