AHMEDABAD, FEBRUARY 04
Ben Stokes fell after a fighting fifty as England lost two wickets in the second session to reach 144-5 at tea on the opening day of the final test against India in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
The tourists had slumped to 30-3 when Stokes joined Jonny Bairstow to arrest the slide after skipper Joe Root's decision to bat at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Ollie Pope was batting on 21 at the break with the recalled Dan Lawrence on 15.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was the wrecker-in-chief when India thumped England inside two days in the third test at the same venue to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
The 27-year-old proved a handful again at his home ground claiming two wickets in his first two overs.
Dom Sibley made two before he inside-edged a delivery onto his stumps and, in Patel's next over, Zak Crawley stepped out to chip the ball to mid-off and depart for nine.
Quick Mohammed Siraj, replacing Jasprit Bumrah in the lone change to the India squad, struck the biggest blow when he trapped Root leg before wicket for five with an inswinger to compound England's crisis.
Bairstow suffered a pair of ducks in the third test but looked determined to make amends as he overcame occasional discomforts to punish the loose balls.
Siraj trapped him lbw soon after the lunch break but Stokes could not be denied his 24th test fifty.
The all-rounder hit Ravichandran Ashwin and Washingston Sundar for sixes and then reverse-swept Patel to bring up his half-century.
Off-spinner Sundar dismissed Stokes lbw for 55 with a sliding delivery.
India need a draw to secure their place in the June final of the World Test Championship against New Zealand.