England overcame the loss of two early wickets on a pitch of turgid low bounce and a lack of pace on the first morning of the final Test against India in Nagpur.
Alastair Cook's tourists, needing a draw at worst here to close out a historic series victory, lost both openers - their captain and Nick Compton - to Ishant Sharma well inside the first hour. But after winning the toss, by lunch they had recovered from 16 for two to 61 without further loss thanks to Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott's unbroken stand.
Compton was the first to be undone by the bizarre conditions, when a short delivery produced only slow-motion looping bounce. He set himself with reflexes trained for a pitch somewhere within the usual pace parameters.
Then as the ball died off the surface, his bat was thrown into position too quickly and resulted in a thin edge which barely carried to the wicketkeeper.
Cook needed 15 balls to get off the mark, as Pragyan Ojha took the new ball in the absence of a second seamer and tried to out-bore the England captain with a seven-two leg-side field and consequent negative line.
Trott contributed England's first boundary, a straight-driven four when Sharma helpfully took the pitch out of the equation with a half-volley, but the number three was fortunate to survive on seven when he played too soon at a length ball and was hit on the pad.
Sharma was convinced the lbw was stone-dead, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena made the marginal call that ball had hit pad just outside the line of off-stump.
Cook found himself on the other side of a similar ruling soon afterwards from Dharmasena - and although it looked as if he was hit outside the line, this time he had to go lbw.
England were in danger of fluffing their lines just when they need one more confident performance to complete their mission improbable on this tour, but Trott and Pietersen provided some much-needed stability as they gradually attuned themselves to an unfamiliar experience, even by sub-continental standards.
Pietersen became sufficiently in sync to loft leg-spinner Piyush Chawla over mid-on for two boundaries in one over.