(BBC) Debutant Joe Root and Matt Prior led England’s fightback against India on an attritional first day in Nagpur yesterday.
After winning the toss England slumped to 139-5 on a slow and low wicket, but Root (31 not out) and Prior (34 no) helped the tourists recover to 199-5.
Kevin Pietersen (73) and Jonathan Trott (44) earlier rescued England from 16-2 after Ishant Sharma dismissed Nick Compton (3) and Alastair Cook (1).
England lead India 2-1, needing a draw in this final Test to win the series.
The performance of Root, in particular, will encourage England, who drafted the 21-year-old Yorkshire opener in at number six to replace Samit Patel.
The youngster showed real maturity as he mixed stout defence with intelligent run-scoring – the Sheffield-born player looking strong on both sides of the wicket alongside Prior.
It was also another impressive, gritty display by Prior who once again displayed the responsibility which is now complementing his undoubted range of attacking shots in the middle order.
While India kept England in check with some tight bowling and an improved fielding display, England’s batsmen may, with the exception of Cook who fell to a poor umpiring decision, rue poor shot selection.
Pietersen, in particular, might be disappointed with the manner of his dismissal after a superb innings which was a masterclass in dogged defence and sensible strokeplay until he holed out.
The 32-year-old, who registered his second slowest Test half-century in the 188-ball knock, chipped debutant all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja into the hands of short mid-wicket to leave England wobbling at 139-5, on a ground where the average first innings score is 397.
Pietersen had shown commendable restraint as he cut out the risky shots and, together with Trott in a watchful 86-run partnership, steadied England after a turbulent start.
Sharma, the sole pace bowler in the Indian team, did the early damage as Compton, who has been awarded an incremental contract by England, edged a short ball behind before Cook was given out leg before wicket – despite replays showing the ball might not have shaped in enough.
The ball certainly did enough for Trott’s dismissal as the Warwickshire batsman, who looked in good touch, left one from Jadeja which drifted back in and hit off stump.