Curran’s counter spares England’s blushes again

England looked in danger of being knocked over embarrassingly early on the first day of the fourth Test against India until a counterattacking 78 from Sam Curran added a hint of respectability to the hosts first innings score.

Curran was the last man out and only man to make it past fifty for England as they were bowled out for 246. It could have been so much worse though with Joe Root winning the toss and electing to bat only to be among the four England batsmen out before lunch.

Keaton Jennings was first out in comical fashion as he left an in-swinger from Jasprit Bumrah that pitched on leg only to be struck plumb in front and be on his way for a four-ball duck.

Root (4) was the second man back in the hut as he too was trapped leg before, though there was more doubt in that decision and the skipper opted to review. The review showed that Ishant Sharma had indeed trapped Root LBW and, unlike Bumrah earlier in the day, had not overstepped.

Rishabh Pant struggled to cope with the moving ball almost as much as the England batsmen conceding 23 runs in byes.

Alastair Cook toughed out the first hour having been joined by Jonny Bairstow, promoted to number four, but neither would make it to lunch. Bairstow (6) struggled with his forward defensive at times but could do little to help his dismissal, nicking off to a jaffer from Bumrah before Cook (17) flashed a cut at a fullish Hardik Pandya delivery sending it straight to Virat Kohli at third slip.

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler got England to lunch on 57/4 with the India bowlers managing just 24 overs in the morning session.

Shortly after the break Buttler (21) flashed a loose drive at a Shami away-swinger to nick off to Kohli still stationed at third slip.

Stokes (23) burned England’s last review when he was trapped leg before to give Shami his second. The allrounder probably feared England’s lower-order would collapse in a heap but fortunately for England Moeen Ali and Curran managed to stop the bleeding long enough to keep the hosts in the game.

Moeen (40) and Curran would add 98 runs for the seventh wicket before the former turned villain with a slog sweep that gifted Ravichandran Ashwin a wicket and left England 167 for 7.

Curran would milk another 79 runs with the final three. Adil Rashid (6) won’t thank Stokes for his review burning as a referral would have saved the leg-spinner from being adjudged leg before to Ishant.

Stuart Broad showed guts in a tough situation, having shown little appetite for batting this series so far, and added a valuable 17 runs in a 63-run ninth wicket partnership with Curran.

Curran showed greater intent than any of England’s top-order and was rewarded for his endeavor but after Broad was trapped leg before by Bumrah the allrounder felt he had to take on Ashwin and missed a straight one. Bumrah’s 3/46 made him the pick of the England bowlers.

India’s openers took leaf out of Curran’s book and showed intent in a tricky fifteen minute start to their reply on the first evening ending 19 for none after four overs with Lokesh Rahul (11*) and Shikhar Dhawan (3*) unmoved.