England lost three wickets in quick succession against India’s spinners after the tourists enjoyed a bright start to the first Test in Hyderabad.
At lunch the tourists were 108 for three, with Yorkshire duo Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the midst of a repair job following India’s triple breakthrough.
A bullish opening stand of 55 between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett gave England the upper hand for the first 45 minutes, but once the seamers gave way to the slow bowlers it was a different story.
India picked up three wickets for five runs in the space of 21 balls, Ravichandran Ashwin picking off both set batters and Ravindra Jadeja making short work of an uncomfortable Ollie Pope.
The game was moving away from England quickly, as it has many times before in this part of the world, but they found stability in their experienced middle-order pair.
Root survived an lbw scare off his second ball to reach 18no and Bairstow, resuming life as a specialist number five after ceding the wicketkeeping gloves to Ben Foakes, found a nice flow for 32no.
With a side containing a solitary seam option and four spinners, England captain Ben Stokes would have been mightily relieved to win the toss and surprised nobody by choosing to bat.
The hosts devoted the first eight overs to pace but despite a hint of swing for Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah, Crawley and Duckett took their chance to get on top with a handful of boundaries.
Crawley produced a pair of sweet on-drives off, with Duckett riding the odd play-and-miss as he flashed eagerly through the off-side.
Pope, playing his first innings since the second Ashes Test in June, followed close behind. He lasted 11 uncomfortable deliveries before nicking Jadeja tamely to slip for one. There was a big shout against the newly arrived Root moments later, but after a long delay DRS appeared to show a thin edge before impact with the pad.
England’s relief lasted just a matter of seconds with Crawley driving Ashwin straight to mid-off, where Siraj scooped a low catch. At 58 for three, it was a tense time but Bairstow’s arrival at his former IPL home ground shifted the tone.