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Brilliant Ballance gives England hope

By Callum Dent  

Gary Ballance struck his second successive century at Lord’s to help England respond to India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s charge on day two of the second Investec Test.

Replying to the tourists’ first-innings 295, Bhuvneshwar showed how to successfully operate on the green surface by taking three wickets to help reduce the hosts to 70 for three. 

But Ballance came to England’s rescue, remaining patient early on before upping the ante and moving to his second five-day ton in five matches, joining Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott in making consecutive hundreds in their first two contests at the home of cricket.

The Yorkshire batsman combined with fellow left-hander Moeen Ali in a fifth-wicket stand of 98, although India did wrestle back the initiative by dismissing the pair in the final eight overs of the day.

Moeen became Murali Vijay’s first Test scalp and Ballance, on 110, was strangled down the leg side with the new cherry by the returning Bhuvneshwar, who limited England to 219 for six at the close, 76 runs in arrears, by returning fine figures of 4-46.

The day began well for England as they required only 10 balls to wrap up India's first innings, Ben Stokes having Mohammed Shami caught at first slip by Alastair Cook, his 100th take in Tests, at the second attempt.

The home side then made a watchful start in their reply as Cook and Sam Robson negotiated the swing and movement from the new ball, only for both openers to fall in the space of 13 deliveries from Bhuvneshwar.

Cook fished outside off stump and edged behind to Mahendra Singh Dhoni two balls after Robson, on eight, was dropped in the cordon by Ajinkya Rahane off Shami.

Gary Ballance celebrates his second successive Test century at Lord's after hitting Stuart Binny for four for the fifth time in nine deliveries

Middlesex’s Robson, batting on his home ground, failed to make the most of his life, following his skipper back to the pavilion when slashing at a wide one and providing Dhoni with his second catch.

Ballance, stuck on two for 27 deliveries, and Ian Bell, who took 16 balls to get off the mark, dug in in a patient stand of 39 either side of lunch.

The latter’s dismissal, with the score on 70, came from nowhere as he tried to leave a ball that jagged back into him sharply and cannoned off the glove to Ravindra Jadeja in the slips.

Ballance, on 32, was fortunate that an edge in Stuart Binny’s second over of medium pace pierced wicketkeeper and first slip, with Dhoni opting to leave a relatively straight-forward take for Shikhar Dhawan who was unmoved.

Joe Root was unfortunate to be given out lbw in Jadeja’s second set of six, with replays showing a big inside edge onto pad, but Moeen’s arrival at the crease helped Ballance flourish.

Ballance advanced through the gears and completed a half-century on the stroke of tea before taking a liking to Binny.

He hit the seamer for a quintet of fours in just nine balls to reach a splendid 186-ball hundred.

But part-time spinner Vijay surprised Moeen with a full delivery that he missed and was trapped lbw, while Ballance tickled Bhuvneshwar behind to give India hope of securing a sizeable first-innings lead tomorrow. 

Match scorecard  /  Live ball-by-ball commentary

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Evening session 

6.15pm - STUMPS! Eng 219/6; Plunkett 4, Prior 2 - Plunkett and Matt Prior see out the rest of the day. India gift England two late runs when a throw at the stumps is not backed up by a fielder. The tourists will be happy with their day's work and will be looking to secure a first-innings lead tomorrow. 

5.58pm - WICKET! Ballance c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 110; Eng 214/6 -  Bhuvneshwar strangles Ballance down the leg side and Dhoni takes the catch. A great innings. 

5.53pm - India take the new ball. Can they claim a couple of wickets in the five overs left today?

5.42pm - WICKET! Moeen lbw Vijay 32; Eng 211/5 - Moeen pulls Vijay to the boundary but the bowler responds by pinning him lbw to claim his first Test scalp. Nightwatchman Liam Plunkett walks to the crease with eight overs in the day remaining.  

5.33pm - CENTURY! Ballance (186b 14x4 0x6) -  Ballance pulls and clips Binny for four to complete his second hundred in five Tests. He also has two in as many matches at Lord's. Superb stuff. 

5.25pm - Moeen gets in on the act now, crunching Jadeja over the top for his first boundary in 55 balls. 

5.20pm -  Stuart Binny returns to the attack from the Nursery End and Ballance crashes him through the covers and point for successive fours. Pure timing. He's into the nineties. 

5.10pm - Ballance and Moeen are making batting on this pitch look a lot easier. The new ball is available in 10 overs.

4.46pm - Ballance and Moeen's fifth-wicket stand reaches 50, the highest of the innings, with the former dominating with 33. 

4.30pm - Ballance drives Bhuvneshwar Kumar through the mid-on region for four. Great shot from the Yorkshire batsman. England are 150 for four. 

4.12pm - An uncontrolled sweep from Moeen Ali loops over the wicketkeeper and races away for four. The Worcestershire man wants to take the game to India by the looks of it. 

4.09pm - Gary Ballance tickles the first ball of the evening session, off Murali Vijay, to the fine-leg rope. The left-hander then guides Ishant Sharma to the boundary behind square. The sun is out and the pitch seems to have lost a bit of green. Can England end the day well?

Afternoon session

3.40pm - TEA! Eng 125/4; Ballance 51, Moeen 6 - India win another session today, despite Ballance holding things together with an unbeaten fifty. The tourists, 170 runs ahead, are reaping rewards for bowling full and straight. 

3.38pm - FIFTY! Ballance (115b 6x4 0x6) - Ballance takes a single to bring up a solid half-century. The Yorkshire batsman has three fifties and a hundred in four Tests this summer. 

3.22pm - New batsman Moeen Ali clubs his first ball from Jadeja over mid-on for four.

3.20pm - WICKET! Root lbw Jadeja 13; Eng 113/4 - Root is unfortunate to be given out lbw, with replays showing a big inside edge onto pad. 

3.05pm - Ballance and Root both collect fours off Binny's third over, which costs nine, taking England into three figures in the process. 

2.51pm - CHANCE! -  Ballance, on 32, edges Binny between wicketkeeper and first slip for four. Mahendra Singh Dhoni should be taking that; instead he leaves it for Shikhar Dhawan who is unmoved. 

2.41pm - Ballance greets Stuart Binny's first ball by trying an expansive drive and outside-edging over the slips for four. England are edging towards three figures. 

2.28pm - New batsman Joe Root is looking to be aggressive from the off, an attempted cut shot flying off the toe of the bat and landing just short of third slip. Ballance caresses Ishant through midwicket and the Yorkshire pair run four. 

2.12pm - WICKET! Bell c Jadeja b Bhuvneshwar 16; Eng 70/3 - Bell leaves a ball that jags back into him sharply and cannons off the glove to Ravindra Jadeja in the slips. That came out of nowhere.  

2.08pm - Ballance looks to be more positive after the interval, showing his attacking prowess by uppercutting Bhuvneshwar Kumar over the cordon for a boundary. The left-hander then survives another leg-before appeal from Ishant. The ball pitched outside leg. 

2.02pm - After four leg-byes race away to the vacant fine-leg boundary, Gary Ballance flicks Ishant through midwicket for three. The bowler responds by beating Bell's bat on two occasions. It's a battle out there. 

1.46pm - Ishant Sharma goes up for a big lbw appeal against Ian Bell in the first over of the afternoon session, not realising the right-hander has clearly hit the ball onto his pad. 

Morning Session  

1pm - LUNCH! Eng 51/2; Ballance 7, Bell 11 -  Ballance and Bell see England through to lunch only two wickets down. There is plenty of work for the duo to do after the interval. 

12.47pm - Bhuvneshwar's opening spell is complete. His figures read 10-4-17-2. Ishant swaps ends and replaces the two-wicket seamer at the Nursery End. Bell clips the tall paceman through midwicket for four. 

12.39pm - Bell chops Bhuvneshwar through gully for four to collect his first runs from his 16th ball.  

12.36pm - Ian Bell and Ballance are charged with the task of rebuilding the England innings now. The India seamers are deploying an admirable line and length on this surface, something England struggled to do yesterday morning. The home side are 31 for two.

12.19pm - WICKET! Robson c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 17; Eng 31/2 - Robson slashes at a wide Bhuvneshwar ball and provides Dhoni with his second catch. That was a careless shot outside off the stump.

12.17pm -  Dhoni throws the ball to Ishant Sharma, who oversteps on his second delivery from the Pavilion End. The paceman also sends down a wide in a set of six that also sees Gary Ballance play and miss and survive a loud lbw appeal. 

11.57am - WICKET! Cook c Dhoni b Bhuvneshwar 10; Eng 22/1 - Cook heads back to the pavilion as he pushes outside off stump and nicks Bhuvneshwar to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

11.55am - CHANCE! - Robson gets a life when Ajinkya Rahane shells a dolly at slip off Shami. To add insult to injury, the Middlesex batsman - playing on his home ground - finds the midwicket boundary next ball. 

11.50am - Robson punches Bhuvneshwar down the ground for three and, in the next over, flicks Shami off his hips for a couple. Cook then clips a ball straying down leg for four. 

11.32am - England's openers continue to be watchful against the nagging Bhuvneshwar and Shami. Cook flicks the latter off his legs for four. 

11.20am - After Cook takes a single into the leg side, Sam Robson nicks just short of third slip off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. 

11.06am - WICKET AND END OF INNINGS! Shami c Cook b Stokes 19; Ind 295 all out - Ben Stokes has Shami caught at first slip by Alastair Cook at the second attempt to end India's first innings. That is the England skipper's 100th take in the five-day format. 

11.02am - Mohammed Shami slashes at James Anderson and inside-edges to the fine-leg boundary. 

Pre-Play News

10.57am - English comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry rings the bell and the umpires and players emerge onto the field. 

10.50am -  England again struggled to blow away India’s lower order yesterday and, in his post-match press conference, all-rounder Ben Stokes called for his side to find a killer instinct. 

10.40am -  Fortunately, the ground shows no signs of suffering from the almighty thunderstorm that hit London in the early hours and play should start on time. 

10.30am - Good morning and welcome to live coverage of day two of the second Investec Test between England and India at Lord's.  

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