Nagpur, Dec 13: On a difficult first day pitch for batting, Kevin Pietersen's responsible 73 held England innings together as the visitors ended the day with a satisfying 199/5 in 97 overs here at Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium on Thursday.
At stumps, wicketkeeper Matt Prior (34, 83 balls, 3x4) and debutant Joe Root (31, 110 balls, 1x4) were at the crease. The duo has so far added 60 runs in 29.3 overs for the sixth wicket. England played out 80 overs of dot balls in the day. That is clear indication of the way the 22-yard strip behaved on day one.
It was old-fashioned Test match cricket on view with England scoring at 2.05 runs per over. Right from the start in the morning, the pitch was low and slow. It was not an ideal surface for stroke-play. The need of the hour was to graft and Pietersen showed the way for the tourists.
Pietersen, to start with, played few shots against the spinners, but settled down. His 73 runs had 10 boundaries and took 188 deliveries. When India removed Pietersen at 139 in final session, they would have expected to take couple of more wickets but Root impressed in his first game along with Prior.
Right through, India maintained an excellent over rate and bowled 7 more than the required 90. Left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha did the bulk of the bowling with 27 and 25 respectively. Jadeja, on debut, took two wickets while Ojha went wicketless. India's four spinners together bowled 78 overs. R Ashwin and Piyush Chawla bowled 13 overs apiece.
Chawla had one success while Ishant Sharma had sent back the openers in the first session. Captain MS Dhoni, was more vocal behind the stumps. He was constantly encouraging his bowlers.
In the end, the honours were shared but Pietersen's knock did stand out.
England 133/4 at tea
Pietersen's half century took England to 133/4 in 65 overs at tea. In difficult batting conditions, Pietersen's 68 not out was the cornerstone of England innings.
India managed to add two more wickets in the second session. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell were the batsmen dismissed. Ravindra Jadeja got his maiden Test wicket when Trott misjudged a straight ball and left it alone to see the offstump disturbed.
Bell was caught at extra cover by Virat Kohli off Piyush Chawla. Debutant Joe Root, England's 655th Test player, is with Pietersen at the break.
England 61/2 at lunch
On a first day track which has already shown variable bounce in the first session, England lost two wickets and reached 61 at lunch against India in fourth and final Test. Ishant Sharma dismissed both openers Nick Compton and Alastair Cook.
In the 33 overs bowled in 120 minutes of play, there were few deliveries which have kept low and few of the balls bowled by Ishant have not carried to wicketkeeper-captai Dhoni.
India's nemesis this series, Cook was back in the hutch for just 1 run, thanks to umpire Kumar Dharmasena. The England captain was clearly struck outside the line of offstump by this year's ICC best umpire from Sri Lanka raised his finger. Cook's partner Compton (3) edged a bouncer short ball from Ishant and Dhoni completed a good catch.
India's four spinners were all on show in the first session but the successes came through the lone paceman. Kevin Pietersen, as he has always been, was positive, attacking the spinners. Jonathan Trott is with him at the break. Both not out batsmen are on 28 each. They both have added 45 so far after England were 16/2.
Toss report: England opt to bat
England won the toss and chose to bat first against India in the fourth and final Test here on Thursday. England are leading the series 2-1.
England and India both made two changes each. For India, Ravindra Jadeja was handed debut while Piyush Chawla made a comeback. They replaced Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh. Jadeja is India's Test player number 275.
The visitors too have a debutant in Joe Root while Tim Bresnan returned the playing XI. Samit Patel and injured Steven Finn missed out. The 21-year-old Root is a right-hand batsman and offspinner.
This was the first toss won the Alastair Cook in the series. He had lost all three previous tosses.
India will have four spinners in this Test and lone fast bowler, Ishant Sharma.
It is a big game for the hosts. India have not lost a Test series at home for 8 years.
For England, if they avoid defeat, it will ensure that they pocket the series in India for the first time since 1985. David Gower was the English captain when they won the 5-match series 2-1.
The present leader of the team, Cook has led by example and he has a chance to create history after a 27-year wait.
India: MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Ishant Sharma, Piyush Chawla.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Monty Panesar, Joe Root, Tim Bresnan.
Umpires: Rod Tucker (Australia) and Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand)
First Test: India won by 9 wickets (Ahmedabad)
Second Test: England won by 10 wickets (Mumbai)
Third Test: England won by 7 wickets (Kolkata)