Curran rescues England after top-order collapse vs India
SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Allrounder Sam Curran rescued England after its latest top-order collapse by scoring a career-high 78 to push the team to a potentially competitive 246 all out on Day 1 of the fourth test against India on Thursday.
The Indians reached stumps on 19-0 after getting through the final four overs of the day unscathed — 227 runs behind England — but will rue not taking fuller control of a match they need to win to level the five-match series at 2-2.
England was 86-6 at one stage at Southampton as its leading batsmen again struggled to handle a swinging ball, but Curran and Moeen Ali (40) put on 81 for the seventh wicket to lead a recovery. Curran, a 20-year-old rising star of the English game, swept a six to bring up the second half-century in his four-test career and was the last man out after a 63-run ninth-wicket partnership with Stuart Broad.
"India did bowl very well with the new ball. It swung more than we thought for the whole day," said Curran. "We managed to sneak up to 250, which was pretty positive in the end."
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah was the best of India's bowlers, finishing with figures of 3-46 off 20 overs.
Curran was man of the match against India in the first test but had to give up his place for the third test, which England lost at Trent Bridge, to allow for Ben Stokes' return. He was only back in the team in Southampton because of a last-minute injury to Chris Woakes and he vindicated his recall by helping to save England along with Ali, another player returning to the side.
There was one moment of fortune for Curran who — on 30 — had reason to thank an umpire's call for an lbw reprieve against India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Otherwise, his 109-ball half-century, which was brought up like his previous 50 with a six off Ashwin, was unblemished.
The now-familiar batting collapse from England, which won the toss, was sparked by the tame dismissal of Keaton Jennings, who was trapped lbw for 0 playing no stroke to a delivery by Bumrah on the 13th ball of the day.
Clearly struggling for confidence, Jennings might be the next England batsman to lose his place in the team after Dawid Malan and Ollie Pope this series.
England captain Joe Root survived a plumb lbw shout off Bumrah because of a no-ball on review but eventually went the same way to Ishant Sharma in the eighth over for 4.
Bumrah enticed an edge behind from Jonny Bairstow (6), before Alastair Cook guided a delivery from Hardik Pandya to third slip on 17, leaving England 36-4 at that stage.
England's top four are averaging 17.70 this series.
Ben Stokes (23) and Jos Buttler (21) avoided further mishap in the morning session but Buttler went hard at an early-afternoon drive and edged Mohammed Shami's outswinger for Virat Kohli's second fine slip catch.
Stokes' 79-ball effort ended when he failed to make the intended contact in forward-defense to Shami, from round the wicket, and became the third of England's five lbw victims.
That proved to be the low point for England as Moeen and Curran took over to reignite England's ambitions of a series-clinching win.