|First Test, Chennai (day two)|
|England 555-8 (180 overs): Root 218, Sibley 87, Stokes 82|
|India: Yet to bat|
Joe Root scored an imperious double century as England continued their strong start to the first Test against India on day two in Chennai.
England captain Root resumed on 128 and serenely compiled 218 to extend his stunning run of form.
His nine-hour epic helped England close on 555-8, Ben Stokes also making an enterprising 82.
The loss of four wickets in the evening session halted England’s progress slightly but the tourists are still in an impressive position.
The pitch is offering increasing assistance to the spinners and seamer Ishant Sharma found notable reverse swing late in the day, which will please England’s quick bowlers.
Root overcame all India threw at him until he fell lbw to left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem in the evening session.
His score, the highest of any batsman in their 100th Test, is the best in India by an England player and the first double hundred by an overseas player in the country since 2010.
A weary India could have wrapped up the innings late in the day but for a horrible dropped catch by Rohit Sharma to reprieve Dom Bess, who ended 28 not out.
Root bats into the record books
Root’s hundred was the fifth double of his career – only Wally Hammond has more for England – and follows scores of 228 and 186 in Sri Lanka last month.
On day one he was the heavier scorer in a hefty 200-run partnership with Dom Sibley; on day two he allowed Stokes to take on the role of the aggressor in their stand.
Balls spat from the previously docile pitch – something England will want to see when they come to bowl on day three – but Root was rarely troubled.
India burned through their reviews in a bid to get him out.
For the most part the 30-year-old was a quiet accumulator before he burst into life by lofting Ravichandran Ashwin, the world’s premier spinner, for six over wide long-on to pass 200.
So focused Root seemed, it took him a few moments to realise he had reached another landmark.
When his innings did end – he missed a straight ball that slid onto his pad from Nadeem – he was greeted with a warm handshake from India’s captain Virat Kohli. It was a sign of appreciation from one of the world’s other star batsmen.
Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara is the only other player to have made scores in excess of 180 in three consecutive Tests.
India battle but do not help themselves
India have now been in the field for 180 overs.
Their fight in the final session was admirable. Ishant, in particular, impressed by bowling Jos Buttler for 30 and Jofra Archer for a first-ball duck in consecutive deliveries that swung in late.
However, there were errors throughout the day not befitting of a side at the top of the World Test Championship table.
With six overs remaining, Bess, on 19, clipped the ball softly to Rohit and he spilled the ball from in front of his face.
There were drops in the morning session too – Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara putting down difficult chances off Stokes early in the all-rounder’s morning onslaught.
Buttler would also have been dismissed 12 runs sooner had India not wasted their reviews. The umpire missed a faint snick through to the wicketkeeper, with India rightly convinced it was out.
More disappointingly for India, their bowlers have bowled 19 no-balls so far. It was apt England reached 550 when spinner Ashwin bowled his second.
Stokes sparkles on return
Stokes’ innings was his first in red-ball cricket since early August. He missed the final two Tests of the English summer for family reasons and was rested for last month’s tour of Sri Lanka.
England’s star all-rounder began quietly, he and Root locked in an intense early battle with Ashwin and Ishant, before attacking at the first sign of real danger.
Nadeem found turn from the foot holes outside his off stump and Stokes, rather than defend, unleashed reverse and slog sweeps.
He lived dangerously, the ball fell into unmanned spaces on occasions, but he dazzled and hit three sixes and 10 fours in his 118 balls.
The high-risk strategy eventually cost him his wicket – he was caught at fine leg with a top-edged sweep – but he had quickly helped increase England’s score from 263-3 to 387-4.
‘The win has gone for India’ – reaction
England all-rounder Ben Stokes speaking on Channel 4: “Joe Root makes me feel rubbish – that’s pretty much where he’s at, at the moment. He’s an amazing player. I’m not too sure we’ve had an England player play spin so well – with such ease and with such control. He makes it look very easy and it’s a pleasure to watch.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on The Cricket Social: “The win has gone out of the equation for India; I can’t see how they get 700 quickly and then bowl England out cheaply. Mentally, that’s a challenge for the batsmen.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “Everyone will talk about Root, and rightly so, but I think Stokes was brilliant today. It was a brilliant example of what to do as a left-hander when the ball is causing problems near your off stump. It was unfussy and ruthless. If I had to sit down and watch an innings again tonight, it would be the Stokes innings. It was brilliant.”