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England were cruising along at 230 for two with debutant Keaton Jennings (112, 219b, 13x4) and Moeen Ali (50, 104b, 4x4, 1x6) looking in little trouble against a home attack that appeared to have lost some of its edge in the absence of their pace spearhead Mohammad Shami. His replacement Bhuvneshwar Kumar wasn’t too effective on the opening day of the fourth Test here at the Wankhede on Thursday.
Against the run of the play, England contrived to lose both their set batsmen and concede some of the advantage that they had gained through a mixture of positive intent and timely circumspection. R Ashwin turned the tables around with a post-tea spell that read 8-1-14-3. 
Though he bowled well in the second session, when England could muster only 89 in 31 overs as opposed to 117 from an identical number of overs in the first session, the rewards came in the final stretch of play. It was as much about Ashwin’s patience and persistence as it was about England batsmen’s tactlessness. 
At stumps, England were 288 for five with Ben Stokes (25 n.o.) and Jos Buttler (18 n.o.) stemming the free fall with a patient, unbroken stand of 39 off 13.4 overs. It’s a score that both teams should be content with – India, who lost three DRS appeals on the day, for having pulled back things a bit and England, for not completely letting things slip.
Ali fell to a moment of indiscretion when he tried to slog Ashwin (30-3-75-4), who had been reintroduced into the attack for his third spell of the day. The adventurous attempt only resulted in a top edge for Karun Nair to complete a smart catch at square-leg, running from mid-wicket. Despite spending more than two hours in the middle, it was surprising that the southpaw didn’t account for the extra bounce in the pitch. Having crossed over, Jennings nicked the very next ball to gully where Cheteshwar Pujara had been moved to for the very purpose. Two wickets in as many balls brought India right back into the game.
Jonny Bairstow and Stokes appeared to be reviving the innings but a rush of blood from the former pegged the tourists back again. Bairstow went on his knees and attempted to sweep Ashwin but the extra bounce again meant the ball took the top edge for Umesh Yadav to pouch a fairly simple catch, moving from deep backward square-leg.
Having won his third toss in four matches, Alastair Cook (46, 60b, 5x4) would be lamenting his team’s inability to run a big total despite holding sway over the home attack for more than two sessions of play. Cook walked in with Jennings, his 11th opening partner in four years, and played with an uncharacteristically positive intent and, ironically, got out in similar fashion; dismissed off a stumping for only the fourth time in his 250 innings. 
By the time Cook walked back, the England’s skipper had laid a sound platform for his team by raising 99 runs in the company of an assured Jennings. The South African-born player did enjoy a slice of luck when he was grassed by a diving Nair at gully even before he could open his account but barring that blemish the left-hander didn’t put a foot wrong. 

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