Cricket: Phenomenal double century from captain Joe Root has England in commanding position over India

Joe Root is England's best player of spin bowling and has an answer for anything thrown at him, all-rounder Ben Stokes said in a tribute to his captain after he smashed his fifth double century on Sunday (NZ time).

Root's 218 in the opening test against India was his second double ton in three tests, illustrating the red-hot form of a batsman who forms cricket's "big four" with India counterpart Virat Kohli, Australian's Steve Smith and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

During his nine-hour vigil, Root provided a spin masterclass for all touring batsmen who often struggle against the turning ball in India's spin-friendly wickets.

"He makes us all feel pretty rubbish with how easy he makes batting look," Stokes, who contributed a breezy 82 and dominated his 124-run stand with the captain, told reporters.

"He's in phenomenal form, just making things look very very easy and the way he plays, well - dominates - spin is incredible to watch.

"I don't think we've had an England batsman play spin in the way that he does. 

"He's just got an answer for everything that's thrown at him, and it's just a delight to watch at the moment."

Root's five double hundreds puts him second behind Wally Hammond's seven among English batsmen.

England will also be pleased with Stokes' performance with the bat in his first test since August last year.

"It's nice to be back in with a bit of time off and spending time in the middle," Stokes, the top-ranked test all-rounder, said.

"The most pleasing thing is coming here and starting the tour really well as a team.

"I don't think we could really have asked for anything better than how this tour started - win the toss, bat first and we'll still bat on day three, so you know it's really pleasing."

England will resume on 555-8 on Sunday having gained an upper hand in the first match of the four-test series against Kohli's men.