India vs England: Ben Stokes closing in on century as England dominate before lunch

Moeen Ali reached 117 in the morning session

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The Independent Online

Ben Stokes was threatening England's third century of the innings as they pressed home their advantage on the second morning against India in Rajkot.

Moeen Ali (117) needed just a single to add his hundred to Joe Root's the previous day, and scampered it from the third ball of the morning off Mohammad Shami after India took the second new ball on the resumption in this first Test of five.

Then Stokes moved to an unbeaten 84 in England's lunchtime 450 for six.

Moeen hit nine fours in his four-hour milestone, and in the next over from Umesh Yadav he added three more in four balls, twice helped by unimpressive work in the field.

He was to pay for a misjudgement against Shami, though, getting his angles wrong and leaving one from round the wicket which knocked out off-stump.

After a fifth-wicket stand of 52, Stokes' new partner Jonny Bairstow soon announced his intent by hitting leg-spinner Amit Mishra straight for six - setting the tempo for a damaging partnership of 99 in only 21.1 overs.

There were two escapes in successive Yadav overs for Stokes, on 60 and 61, when wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha failed to hold diving chances - the second easier than the first - after the left-hander toe-ended attempted cuts at wide deliveries.

That took India's tally of missed catches in the innings to five, four of them off Yadav, but Saha did then take his next chance when Bairstow went after another wide one from Shami. By then, though, the Yorkshireman had scored 46 off 57 balls.

Stokes stayed put as England retained the prospect of counting three individual centurions in the same innings for the first time since the Cardiff Test against Sri Lanka in May 2011.

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