If England were struggling at the end of the first session after a flurry of wickets, their middle-order made sure they steadied the ship, and put the visitors in a safe position of 205/5 at tea on Day 1 of the final Test against India at Mohali.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow was unbeaten on 66 — his 13th Test fifty — while Jos Buttler was batting on 38 at the other end. Only one English wicket fell in the session, that of Ben Stokes who was stumped off Ravindra Jadeja's bowling.
Resuming on a shaky score of 92/4, Bairstow and Stokes began on a steady note, with the former crunching a boundary through extra-cover. Stokes however, upped the aggression levels against the hosts, hammering a couple of boundaries off Mohammed Shami, before targeting the slower bowlers.
India skipper Virat Kohli decided to persist with Jadeja for a long spell, despite the latter having to endure a frustratingly long wait to get a breakthrough. Bowling consistently outside off while varying his length, Jadeja finally managed to beat New Zealand-born all-rounder Stokes in the patience game. The latter strode down the wicket in an attempt to heave towards the off-side, and missed the line of the delivery that hardly had any turn in it. Parthiv Patel, keeping the wickets in place of the injured Wriddhiman Saha for this match, did not waste any time in whipping the bails off.
That however, was the only positive for the Indians in a session that saw the scales getting even between the two sides. Buttler, coming in place of the struggling Ben Duckett in this match, found his rhythm and played perfect foil to Buttler, who looked dominant at the other end. The partnership between the two was worth 61 at the end of the session.
Earlier, India had England reeling at 92/4 at lunch. Electing to bat after winning the toss, England lost opener Haseeb Hameed (9) before skipper Alastair Cook (27) and Joe Root (15) took them past the 50-run mark.
But the hosts quickly turned it around with three quick wickets of Cook, Root and Moeen Ali (16) just before the lunch break to put the visitors on the backfoot. Stumper Jonny Bairstow (20) and Ben Stokes (5) were at the crease when the umpires called for lunch.
With inputs from IANS