Ahmedabad, March 4: India held a slight advantage over England at the end of the first session of the fourth Test as the visitors made 74 for three at lunch at the Narendra Modi Stadium here on Thursday (March 4).
Joe Root made a good beginning for England calling it correct at toss and electing to bat first. But England openers - Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley - did not respond to the call in kind falling to Axar Patel. The left-arm spinner had the English batsmen in a spell in the Pink Ball Test last week, and the scars seemed to have been still fresh in the minds of the visitors.
Sibley was the first to go as Patel's ball took an inside edge before shattering the stumps. Crawley, perhaps, wanted to play a lot more positive cricket and did not want to get caught inside the crease, and he charged down the track but could only manage to offer a simple catch to Mohammed Siraj at long on.
Siraj soon found a moment of his own when the pacer swung one back into Root and caught him plumb in front, and the England skipper walked off rightly without reviewing the decision. At 30 for three, England might have had the vision of their turmoil in the third Test when they were bowled out for 112 and 81.
But Jonny Bairstow (28) and Ben Stokes (24), who had a few words to chat with Siraj and Virat Kohli, stitched together 44 runs for the unbeaten fourth wicket stand to keep England in the game for now. Bairstow, who looked so out of sorts in the day-night Test against Axar, looked comfortable against spin this time and played the straight balls much better than the previous time.
England will require a big stand from these two to put the pressure back on India in the coming session.