India vs England, 4th Test: Pacers give India control at Southampton
Mohammed Shami got Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes in a 12-over spell. @Getty

Pace had a huge say across two sessions on the first day of the fourth Test at The Ageas Bowl, during which England lost six wickets to head into tea with 139 runs on the board. Fifty-three of those have come in a seventh-wicket alliance between the fresh pair of Moeen Ali, playing his first Test since March, and Sam Curran, the 20-year-old back in the side after missing out at Trent Bridge.

India captain Virat Kohli lost his fourth toss in a row, said he would have loved to bat first, but after some splendid bowling from Jasprit BumrahIshant Sharma and Mohammed Shami he may well thank England captain Joe Root for giving his fast bowlers first use of a hard surface with early signs of inconsistent bounce.

Thirteen deliveries into the Test, Keaton Jennings’ woeful series took another turn for the worse, as he thrust out his front pad at a ball from Bumrah that stayed low and was sent on his way lbw. Out for a four-ball duck, Jennings’ batting average dipped to 21.94; he last got to a Test fifty in December 2016.

Another no-ball from Bumrah gave Root a life on 4 – replays showed the ball was headed into leg stump – but as it turned out, it didn’t cost India a single run. Root was out lbw to Ishant, courtesy a very fine delivery that came in with the angle and beat the England captain as he fell forward on his shot. It was Ishant’s 250th Test wicket, and 50th against England.

Jonny Bairstow was the next man in, and though he emerged to cheer from the crowd given he was playing with a recently fractured left middle finger, he looked unconvincing against Bumrah and Ishant. Bairstow lasted 16 balls before he was made to play at another lovely ball from Bumrah which pitched, straightened and took the edge.

After Ishant bowed out with a terrific opening spell of 6-3-7-1, Hardik Pandya came on ended Cook’s 55-ball vigil on 17, the former England opener cutting and edging low to third slip where Kohli held a very fine catch before the ball could hit the ground.

Jasprit Bumrah Southampton
Jasprit Bumrah took two wickets in a very fine opening spell. @Getty

After Ishant and Bumrah in the morning, the star for India in the afternoon was Shami, who was thrown the ball after 16 overs and responded with a full and straight 12-over spell that exploited the slight movement in the surface. Rishabh Pant’s drop of Buttler when he was 11 also did not cost India much, for on 21 Shami found the batsman’s edge and Kohli, at third slip, took another good catch. This wicket came amid a sharp spell from Shami, who found appreciable movement off the pitch and

Stokes applied himself watchfully for 78 balls, but then got an in-cutter from Shami that hit on the flap. Stokes reviewed, the on-field decision by Bruce Oxenford stood and England slumped to 86/6. This wicket came moments after Shami intercepted a full-blooded drive from Stokes back down the track, which left him wringing his right hand.

Ishant extended the pressure on England from the other end in a second spell of 5-3-4-0, virtually rendering the batsmen scoreless with his relentless line and length. Shami can consider himself thankful for Ishant’s stranglehold on the batsman; fast bowling is, after all, about pairs.

A punch past point off Shami for two was Moeen’s first authoritative shot, and two balls later he edged wide of third slip to collect his first boundary, and England’s first in nearly eight overs. That was followed by Curran cracking two fours off Pandya and Moeen cutting Bumrah past point as a partnership began to blossom.

Ten minutes before tea, Bumrah bounced Moeen and was hooked for six over long leg. Moeen was not in control of the shot, and yet it would have given England a degree of confidence after losing six wickets inside 35 overs.