Stokes, Anderson strike as India’s lead crosses 150


Dharamsala, India, March 8 England skipper Ben Stokes struck on his first delivery since knee surgery and fellow quick James Anderson moved to 699 wickets but India extended their lead to 158 in the fifth Test on Friday.

                  India were 376-3 at tea on day two in response to England’s 218 with debutant Devdutt Padikkal, on 44, and Sarfaraz Khan, on 56, batting at the break at the picturesque Dharamsala stadium.

                  Stokes dispatched his Indian counterpart Rohit Sharma for 103 with a delivery that seamed off the pitch to rattle the batsman’s off stump in the second over after lunch.

                  It ended a charging 171-run second-wicket stand with fellow centurion Shubman Gill after India resumed the day on 135-1.

                  Stokes’ superb bowling return after eight months and a knee surgery last November lifted England spirits with the right-arm seamer on target right away.

                  He bowled five overs for 17 runs including a maiden before retreating to field for the rest of an afternoon session dominated by the Indian batsmen.

                  Anderson got one to nip back in and bowled Gill on 110.

                  The 41-year-old is one shy of becoming the third bowler to take 700 Test wickets, after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and the late Australian great Shane Warne (708).

                  Left-handed Padikkal impressed with regular boundaries and Sarfaraz, playing his third Test, overcame a cautious start to raise a 55-ball fifty with a boundary off Shoaib Bashir.

                  Earlier Rohit, who surived a dropped catch by Zak Crawley on 68, raised his second ton of the series with a single off Tom Hartley to a standing ovation from the crowd.                   Gill got to his hundred two balls later in the next over with a boundary off Bashir as he took a bow and doffed his cap to all corners.