Nagpur, Dec 13: Indian bowlers let England off the hook and allowed the visitors to recover from a difficult position as they reached 199 for five at stumps on the opening day to leave the crucial fourth and final cricket Test evenly poised here today.
The home team had England in a real spot at 139 for five soon after tea but failed to seize the initiative as debutant Joe Root and the experienced Matt Prior batted for nearly 30 overs to add 60 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket stand.
The new-look Indian bowling attack had kept the high-flying England batsmen under tight leash and made them struggle for every run in the first two sessions before Prior batting on 34 and Root undefeated on 31 added valuable runs in the final hour.
Kevin Pietersen was the top-scorer for England with an innings of 73 while debutant Ravindra Jadeja got two wickets for 34 runs having bowled 25 overs.
England captain Alastair Cook won the toss for the first time and visitors were rocked back by twin strikes within the first hour by Ishant Sharma but recovered briefly to get past the 100-run mark.
However, they got bogged down by the loss of three more wickets - two of which were claimed by 24-year-old debutant Jadeja and the other by comeback man Piyush Chawla, before staging their second recovery of the day through Root and Prior.
The sixth wicket pair, whose unfinished partnership has lasted five minutes under two hours, came together when Kevin Pietersen was dismissed by Jadeja trying to play towards mid-wicket as Pragyan Ojha took a low catch diving forward.