All-rounder Moeen Ali lifted England's sagging spirit by compiling a well-crafted century as the visitors made a solid start against India in the fifth and final cricket Test in Chennai on Friday.
Moeen's 120-run knock was the highlight of the opening day's play as England, having already conceded the five-match series following three successive defeats, recovered to reach 284 for four at stumps after losing two wickets quickly in the first session.
Ben Stokes (5) was the other unbeaten batsman at the crease after England won the toss and elected to bat.
This was Moeen's fifth Test hundred and second of the series, the first coming in the opener at Rajkot.
During his stay in the middle, Moeen shared a 146-run partnership for the third wicket with Joe Root, who struck a fluent 88, and added another 86 for the fourth wicket with Jonny Bairstow, who missed out on a half century by a run.
On a pitch that provided only slow turn, Ravindra Jadeja was India's best bowler of the day with figures of 3/73, and the fast bowlers were rendered ineffective as there was no reverse swing on offer.
Moeen was scratchy to start with, and even got a life when he flicked Jadeja uppishly through the hands of KL Rahul, who mistimed his jump at midwicket. He was also, on quite a few occasions, beaten by Ravichandran Ashwin, who had a rare wicket-less outing.
As the pitch eased up, Moeen started to get into the groove, and, with Root looking in complete control at the other end, England enjoyed a rare period of dominance after being subjected to three crushing defeats.
Moeen, who got to the century with a single towards point, decorated his innings with 12 boundaries.
Root, who looked in terrific touch till he was dismissed by Jadeja, found the fence 10 times while Bairstow smashed three sixes, including one each of Ashwin and Jadeja, during his 49 off 90 balls.
Root, who notched up his 11th fifty plus score against India in as many matches and also tied Virender Sehwag for most fifty plus scores in a year (13), was distraught with his dismissal.
Attempting to sweep the left-arm spinner from outside off stump, Root got a thin inside-edge -- according to Real-Time Snickometer -- after India reviewed the on-field not-out decision through to the wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.
Joining hands in the 13th over, Root and Moeen powered England to 182 for three at tea. Earlier, having opted to bat after winning the toss, the visitors lost skipper Alastair Cook (10) and Keaton Jennings (1) early, and recovered due to the partnership between Root and Moeen.
Root looked in good touch as he played some effective shots and, in the company of a solid Moeen, added 114 runs in the second session of play.
Thanks to the duo's effort, the session post lunch belonged to England, though they lost Root at a crucial juncture of play.
After a slow start, England also improved their scoring rate, with Root and Moeen at the helm of affairs.
Bairstow looked classy in the few balls he has played before tea and while Root was caught behind after review, Bairstow survived as a DRS decision went in his favour just before tea.
The wicket-keeper then got into the act and smashed three sixes to signal his intention. However, he too got out to Jadeja while going for a drive.
Root was out to Jadeja while going for sweep.
This was after England endured a testing first session to reach 68 for two at lunch.
At the lunch break, Root was unbeaten on 44, with Moeen giving the current England batting mainstay company on 7.
Seeking to restore some pride after being subjected to three successive crushing defeats at the hands of the hosts, England lost the wickets of Cook and Jennings with just 21 runs on the board.
Striking the early blows at the M A Chidambaram Stadium -- made battle-ready owing to some outstanding work by the groundstaff, including using burning coal to dry the pitch -- were comeback man Ishant Sharma and Jadeja, who was getting purchase from the surface.
Jennings, who signalled his arrival in the Test arena with a century and golden duck in his maiden game in Mumbai last week, was the first casualty as he edged Sharma to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.
The visitors were seven for one and it soon became 21 for two when Jadeja, the first slow bowler to be introduced into the attack, induced an edge from Cook for skipper Virat Kohli to take a low catch at first slip.
Jennings, while attempting to drive an over-pitched delivery, got a thick edge as India reaped the reward for maintaining discipline early on.
Cook, who got to the 11000-run landmark, once again fell to Jadeja who, in the previous over, created doubts in the beleaguered English skipper's minds with some that turned and some that did not.
The left-arm spinner then pushed one wide outside off and got a thick edge from the batsman, whose horror tour against Jadeja continued.
Root and Ali then tried to steady the ship.
India are eyeing their biggest-ever Test series victory against England and stretch an unbeaten run to a record 18 matches.