Curran's Test best gives England a glimmer of hope
Sam Curran's defiant 78 gave England a glimmer of first-innings positivity at the Rose Bowl as Joe Root's decision to bat backfired against India.
Having been thoroughly outplayed at Trent Bridge, England turned up hoping to take control of the fourth Test to try to wrap up the five-match series with one game to play.
Winning the toss seemed to be the ideal start for Root but once at the crease England faltered again, the top order toiling against the swinging ball in Southampton.
England's lengthy batting order once again helped avoid utter embarrassment with Moeen Ali (40) and Curran stating their claim for a higher place in the line-up.
Curran brought some respectability to England's total but he quickly ran out of partners as poor shot followed poor shot, the hosts dismissed for 246 in the 77th over.
In response India closed on 19-0, leaving them 227 runs behind and eyeing a first-innings lead on Friday.
From the outset Jasprit Bumrah (3-46) and Ishant Sharma (2-26) enjoyed plenty of success with the new ball, both men able to find enough swing to torment the England batsmen.
Keaton Jennings (0) had watched a number of deliveries from Bumrah swing away from him in the first over, however at the start of his second the seamer got one to go the other way and trap the opener in front.
Bumrah added Bairstow's wicket to his tally after Ishant had removed Joe Root (4), the skipper also failing to read the late swing, as England lurched to 28-3 in the 13th over.
While many had struggled, Alastair Cook (17) appeared composed but once again he failed to get past 30 in the series, this time a loose shot giving Virat Kohli catching practice in the slips.
Jos Buttler (21) – who was dropped by Rishabh Pant on 11 – and Ben Stokes (23) guided England to 57-4 at lunch but both were gone soon after the restart, the former tempted into a wild swipe outside off stump that saw him hand Kohli another catch.
Finally there was some resistance as Ali and Curran showed the more experienced batsmen how it should be done, the pair adding 81 for the seventh wicket to avoid a humiliating total.
Moeen Ali and Sam Curran put on England's first 50+ partnership of the innings as they steady the ship with the home side six down on 139/6 at tea on day one in Southampton.#ENGvIND LIVE https://t.co/VUru4XV87upic.twitter.com/90yXXVwzRe— ICC (@ICC) August 30, 2018
Both men played with control and patience, punishing the bad balls as the swing finally dissipated on day one.
Moeen – who scored a double century for Worcestershire recently – showed why he deserved his recall, while Curran was also proving the selectors right in their decision to bring him back into the fold.
Curran went to 50 with a crisp six over long on and he continued his onslaught as he began to run out of partners, the 20-year-old the last man out as he eyed a maiden Test century.
Shikhar Dhawan (3 not out) and KL Rahul (11no) navigated a tricky four-over spell before the close as England failed to find the swing that had perplexed them earlier in the day.