Curran leads England fightback after India again terrorise top order
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Curran leads England fightback after India again terrorise top order

Sam Curran immediately vindicated his recall as he came to England's rescue with a defiant, career-best 78 on day one of the fourth Test against India.

Number eight Curran formed a comeback combination with Moeen Ali to bail England out from a pallid 6-86 on the way to 246 all out after Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat at Southampton.

Rearguard: England's Sam Curran reacts after being bowled by India's Ravichandran Ashwin during the fourth Test in Southampton.

Rearguard: England's Sam Curran reacts after being bowled by India's Ravichandran Ashwin during the fourth Test in Southampton.

Photo: AP

Still an unconvincing total, it was a vast improvement on what seemed likely before Curran and Moeen's seventh-wicket stand of 81 on a day which ended with India on 19 without loss in reply.

Having elected to bat the home side was 4-57 and 6-86 as the ball moved around alarmingly before Curran and Moeen Ali shared a 79-run stand to stop the rot.

When Moeen eventually went for 40 in the 60th over top-edging a slog-sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin to square leg, Curran continued the fight, reaching his second Test half-century in four innings.

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He put on 63 with Stuart Broad (17) for the ninth wicket but was eventually last man out when trying to force the score along with last man James Anderson, having dragged England to 246.

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India reached 0-19 in reply after England's bowlers failed to make them play at enough deliveries in the four overs possible before the close.

The tourists will have been disappointed not to press home their early advantage after their seamers found prodigious movement in the air to cause all kinds of problems for the batsmen.

England were fortunate to reach lunch at 4-57 as, having lost Keaton Jennings, Root, Jonny Bairstow and Alastair Cook, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant put down a difficult chance off Jos Buttler.

Buttler and Ben Stokes both departed in the first hour of the afternoon session to leave the hosts staring at more humiliation but left-handed duo Curran and Moeen launched the rearguard action.

Jasprit Bumrah finished with 3-46, with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin all taking two wickets apiece.

Packing: India's Ishant Sharma celebrates after dismissing England's Adil Rashid.

Packing: India's Ishant Sharma celebrates after dismissing England's Adil Rashid.

Photo: AP

Curran admitted it had been a mixed day for England, having recovered to post what could still be a competitive first-innings total.

"There are positives and negatives," he told Sky Sports. "We won the toss and batted but (after) being 80 for six, batting to get 250 I think is a massive positive.

"India bowled very well with the new ball. There were some good balls in there and you can't complain when that happens.

"It swung more than we thought during the day, so that is a positive going into tomorrow."

PA