CHENNAI (Reuters) - Moeen Ali capitalised on an early reprieve to score his fifth test century and steer England to 284 for four on the opening day of the fifth and final test against India on Friday.
Opting to bat, England slumped to 21 for two before Moeen added 146 with Joe Root to steady the innings and shared a stand of 86 with Jonny Bairstow to keep the touring side on course for a big total at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Moeen’s unbeaten 120 was an innings of two halves, the left-hander shedding his early tentativeness to hit 12 four after being dropped by Lokesh Rahul at mid-wicket before he had scored.
Ben Stokes was unbeaten on five at the close.
With India having taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, England went into the match seeking to salvage pride but that determination did not show in some casual shot-making by the top order.
Back in the squad replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, paceman Ishant Sharma induced Keaton Jennings into driving a wide delivery and Parthiv Patel collected the edge behind the stumps to dismiss the young opener for one.
Alastair Cook took two off Umesh Yadav’s first ball to reach 11,000 runs in tests but again looked completely at sea against Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin.
The England skipper lunged outside off-stump to edge the ball to Virat Kohli at slip for 10, falling to Jadeja for the fifth time in the series.
Root faced yet another rebuilding job and England’s batting mainstay did not let his team down.
Moeen lazily flicked Jadeja to midwicket where Rahul misjudged his jump and the ball burst through his hands.
Moeen looked ill at ease in the morning session but appeared completely transformed after lunch as he and Root milked India’s three-pronged spin attack despite the pitch offering considerable turn.
Root brought up his 27th test fifty and looked like cruising to his century when he fell to Jadeja.
England’s most prolific batsman in the series attempted a sweep shot and the Indians appealed for caught behind.
It was turned down by the on-field umpire but upheld after the hosts decided to review it.
Root shook his head in dismay as he missed his second century of the series, a feat Moeen achieved in the final session.
Bairstow hit three sixes in his breezy 49 but missed out on a fifty when he loosely drove Jadeja to Rahul at cover.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ed Osmond