Rajkot, Nov 12: The Indian spin troika's inability to get breakthroughs on a good batting track was exposed once again as the first Test against England meandered towards a draw after a solid century stand by the visiting team's openers here on the penultimate day.
After India were all out for 488 in their first innings, thereby conceding a first innings lead of 49 runs, England openers Alastair Cook (46 batting) and teenager Haseeb Hameed (62 batting) added 114 runs in 37 overs to take the lead to 163 runs. (List of Indian batsmen out hit-wicket)
With only a day's play left and turn on offer being a slow one, it will take a Herculean effort from Indian bowlers to enforce a result out of this match which is heading towards a tame draw.
England won't mind as it would give them a necessary boost on a long tour that will end in the third week of next month.
Cook was unbeaten on 46 off 107 balls and debutant opener Hameed struck his maiden half-century on debut. The 115-ball innings had five boundaries and a six.
With the pitch showing just the usual signs of wear and tear, draw looks the most obvious result, unless England make a challenging declaration and press for a victory tomorrow.
In the morning, India resumed at the overnight 319 for four and lost wickets steadily barring a 64-run seventh wicket stand between Ravichandran Ashwin, who made a steady 70 with seven fours off 139 balls and in 200 minutes, and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (35).
India lost the wickets of captain Virat Kohli, who struck five fours in 95 balls, and Ajinkya Rahane (13) in the pre-lunch session and the rest in the session before tea.
The last-wicket stand between Ashwin, who was 49 when the ninth wicket fell, and Mohammed Shami (not out 8) kept England on the field longer than they may have expected and helped India cut the lead to below 50.
All the Indian wickets that fell today were claimed by the English spin trio of leggie Adil Rashid (4 for 114), off-spinner Moeen Ali (2 for 85) and left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari (2 for 77).
The other two wickets were shared equally by pacers Stuart Broad (1 for 78) and Ben Stokes (1 for 52).
Rahane and Kohli departed in the span of under 15 minutes and in the space of 17 balls in the first session to raise England's hopes which were dashed by Ashwin and Saha with their diligent half century stand that lasted for 98 minutes.
Kohli became the first Indian skipper in over 65 years to be dismissed hit-wicket while Rahane was dismissed cheaply before Ashwin and Saha steadied the rocking boat with a half century stand.