England, after winning the toss, were 296 for two against India at tea on the second day of the fourth Test at The Oval here on Friday.
Ian Bell was 114 not out and Kevin Pietersen 98 not out.
India produced a much-improved bowling performance as they removed both England openers on the second day of the fourth and final Test at The Oval here on Friday.
England captain Andrew Strauss could only add two runs in an hour after fellow left-hander Alastair Cook had fallen for his overnight 34.
But Ian Bell played several stylish shots to be 29 not out at lunch, with Kevin Pietersen unbeaten on 18.
England still had every chance of completing a 4-0 series clean sweep after replacing India at the top of the ICC’s Test rankings with a mammoth innings-and-242-run victory at Edgbaston last week.
But they did not have things all their own way in Friday’s first session.
They resumed on 75 without loss following an opening day where rain meant there was no play after lunch.
And England lost their first wicket without addition to their score when Ishant Sharma struck with Friday’s fifth ball.
Sharma drew Cook forward with a good length delivery the batsman edged to Virender Sehwag at first slip.
Cook, who made a career-best 294 at Edgbaston, was out for 34.
India, after a mediocre display on Thursday, were bowling with far greater purpose and it was not until the last ball of Friday’s fourth over when Strauss added a run to England’s total.
Bell then struck Friday’s first boundary when he elegantly late-cut left-arm quick Rudra Pratap Singh, the injured Praveen Kumar’s replacement, for four.
He then struck a glorious cover-drive off seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth that sped to the boundary.
Strauss found runs harder to come by and, chasing a wide half-volley from Sreesanth, he was caught behind by India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 40.
England were now 97 for two.
Pietersen took four off Sreesanth to bring up England’s hundred and then greeted Amit Mishra’s first ball of the innings, a short and wide delivery outside off-stump, by thrashing the leg-spinner to the cover boundary.
But off the last ball before lunch he glanced Sharma towards leg-slip and the umpires, unable to decide if the ball had carried, called for a review.
However, with replays inconclusive, Pietersen remained not out.
England 1st Innings (overnight: 75-0)
A. Strauss c Dhoni b Sreesanth 40
A. Cook c Sehwag b Sharma 34
I. Bell not out 114
K. Pietersen not out 98
Extras (b1, lb4, nb5) 10
Total (2 wkts, 89 overs, 394 mins) 296
Bowling: Singh 23-6-68-0 (1nb); Sharma 20-7-48-1; Sreesanth 17-3-73-1 (2nb); Raina 7-0-24-0; Mishra 20-2-67-0 (2nb); Tendulkar 2-0-11-0
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wkt), Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh. (AFP)