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India make England toil in the field as they build lead in opening Test

India batters made the Hyderabad pitch look flat as they piled on the runs against England on Day 2 of the first Test on Friday.

The home side ended the day with a lead of 175 – sizeable on any surface but surely emphatic on a pitch that their spinners will expect to cause havoc on.

They reached stumps in full control on 421 for seven, roared on by a holiday crowd of close to 30,000 on India's Republic Day.

Still 127 ahead overnight, and with Joe Root's first-over dismissal of Yashasvi Jaiswal leaving India two down, the tourists had a brief opportunity to turn their first-innings mark of 246 into a competitive score and saw it disappear from view.

The limitations of their bowling attack were plain to see as they failed to generate the same problems as the hosts, whose mastery of local conditions is matchless.

Debutant Tom Hartley had a better day after his baptism of fire on Thursday, banking his first two international wickets, but neither he, nor teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed, could disguise their novice status at this level.

Senior spinner Jack Leach was hampered by a knee problem – bowling just 12 balls in the morning session and appearing in a series of short spells thereafter – and Mark Wood’s pace was a footnote, meaning England leaned heavily on Root’s part-time off-breaks.

He played his role admirably, taking two for 77 in 24 overs and asking more difficult questions than the rest combined. But relying so visibly on Root exposed shortcomings that may prove intractable over the course of this five-match series.

KL Rahul (86) and Ravindra Jadeja (81 not out) moved their side into a dominant position but it may have been worse still for England, who profited from some soft dismissals.

Their batting unit must now look to produce a remarkable second innings to make a fight of things. Recent history, where breaking 200 has been the exception rather than the rule for touring England teams, suggests that will be a huge ask.

The explosive Jaiswal gave England a major headache on Thursday evening, piling into Hartley and thrashing 76 at almost a run-a-ball, but he added just four runs before succumbing to the fourth ball of the day. Root, opening up after going unused the night before, turned one just enough to evade the middle of the bat and reached above his head to pluck a caught-and-bowled.

Ben Stokes had pondered the idea of handing Root the new ball, fancying his off-breaks to cause problems for the left-handed Jaiswal, and may regret waiting so long to test his theory.

Things almost got even better when Rahul nicked Root two balls later on nought but wicketkeeper Ben Foakes was not able to pull off what would have been an excellent, and important, catch.

Hartley began at the other end, Stokes eager not to overprotect the 24-year-old after his previous struggles, and he responded with a tighter spell. Where his first nine overs cost 63, this time he got through the same number for 30. More importantly, he opened his account.

Shubman Gill, who never really got going in his 23, flicked Hartley off his leg stump and picked out Ben Duckett at midwicket. The left-armer sprinted away in a mix of celebration and relief.

Yet India never seemed at risk. Rahul proceeded to a comfortable half-century and things got more ragged as the day unfolded. Unable to locate the demons India had unlocked in the pitch, they went searching and made mistakes.

Rahul blasted India into the lead with a pair of sixes off leg-spinner Ahmed, the second a horrible drag down. The teenager was not alone in serving up the occasional freebie as England offered a steady supply of boundary balls. Ahmed did get on the board when Shreyas Iyer aimed a slog-sweep towards the stands but failed to clear Hartley, holing out for 35.

With a century up for grabs Rahul succumbed to the latest unforced error, skying an unthreatening long-hop from Hartley into Ahmed’s hands when he could have hit it anywhere.

With Jadeja at the tiller, India added another 106 after tea, every one of them adding to the size of England's task. Root got a deserved second, KS Bharat lbw on the sweep, and a mix-up saw Ravichandran Ashwin run out but there was little cause for optimism by the close.

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