Jaddu and Ravi
Ravindra Jadeja with Ravichandran Ashwin during practice session AFP

The Visakhapatnam track was expected to assist spinners on Day Two. That’s what the pitch report suggested. The spin troika of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Zafar Ansari had some hopes not much but some. Day One was a disaster for them. None of the spinners could bag a wicket, for it is no dust-bowl. But again, they had hopes on Day Two. Alastair Cook started off with pace instead, given the moisture in the air and the fresh morning rays. It did not work though. The duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad went wicketless, forcing Cook to introduce spin. LIVE Cricket Scorecard: India vs England 2nd Test at Vizag

Virat Kohli looked comfortable. It is not new. His batsmanship has reached another level. At the other end was Ravichandran Ashwin. India had lost only 4 wickets with enough runs on the scoreboard. Moeen came into the attack, with no wickets in his tally. The first delivery he bowled produced no turn. Few more deliveries and still no sign of turn the pitch report spoke of. From the other end attacked leg-spinner Rashid. The deliveries were action-replay of the one bowled on Day One. Cook persisted with spinners for a while, for that was the only mode of attack.

Moeed changed his length. He bowled well outside off, inviting the batsmen to drive away from the body.

England were not the one to be bogged down. They dished out tactic after tactic to get the better of the hosts. And it paid off. Ashwin pushed at a wide delivery, edging it to Ben Stokes at first-slip. The all-rounder, to add to visitors’ woes, dropped a regulation catch. Before his hands could reach, the ball bounced off his knees. That allowed Ashwin to sneak in a run and bring Kohli on strike. ALSO READ: Virat Kohli’s 167, Ravichandran Ashwin s all-round feats and other statisticals highlights from Day 2 of India vs England 2nd Test

Moeen bowled a similar delivery, this time a little fuller. Kohli, with his artistic wrists, tried to drive it past point the shot he often plays in limited-overs. In the process of doing that, he edged it to first-slip. Stokes, this time, made no mistake. Moeen provided the much-needed breakthrough.

In came Wriddhiman Saha at No. 7, the one who had added 213 with Ashwin in India-West Indies series. India, however, still needed more runs on the scoreboard to put themselves in a commanding position.

The Moeen-Rashid pair kept a lid on the runs flow, adding pressure on the lower-middle order.

Moeen exploited the rough marks outside off. One of the deliveries spun sharply in to trap Saha in front. Two wickets in quick succession had put India in a spot of bother. All of a sudden, it appeared as if the match is being played on a different track.

All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja joined Ashwin in the middle to face only two deliveries before he headed back to the pavilion. India were now reduced from 351 for 4 to 363 for 7.

Meanwhile, Ashwin continued being Ashwin and scored his eight fifty, adding 64 with the debutant Jayant Yadav to take India to 455 all-out.

Indian spinners itched to bowl on this wicket, for they did not have the luxury to trouble the English batters on the Rajkot track. But Kohli started the proceedings with pacers. Unlike MS Dhoni, he does not fancy the idea of opening with spinners.

Mohammad Shami hit the seam. When I say he hit the seam, I mean it. Not only that, but the seam position did not change even after kissing the turf.

The new ball is bound to trouble the batters. At the receiving end was the man with close to 11,000 runs Cook.

The England captain left everything that was outside off, but produced a leading edge when fired in the line of stumps. England were 0 for 0 after the first over.

Shami to Cook, third over. No runs off the first two balls.

Then came the highlight of the day. Shami fired one with an upright seam, pierced the gap with Cook’s bat and pad and broke, literally, his off-stump into two.

Joe Root joined the 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed in the middle who was soon run-out for 13. It was a classic emulation by Saha of Dhoni had done in the fourth One-Day International of the five-match series against New Zealand recently.

As a matter of fact, Root and Kohli play their 50th Test. Kohli did his part. Now the limelight was on the Englishman. He scored his 24th Test fifty, scoring bulk of the runs. However, he could not emulate Kohli’s brilliance, eventually playing a rash shot. Further, England lost Ben Duckett and Moeen Ali as the duo were troubled by the spin on offer in the 22-yard pitch.

England lost half their side at 103, trailing by 353 runs at stumps. The track showed evident turn and cracks which will be exploited by the Indian tweakers come Day Three.

Predictions of Day Three:

India will look to enforce follow-on. On the other hand, Stokes, who scored a resounding hundred in the last match, needs to continue his stellar form and stitch a long partnership with Jonny Bairstow.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)