Alastair Cook had luck on his side in the third Investec Test at the Ageas Bowl as he and Sam Robson posted their first half-century stand together at the eighth attempt.

The England captain, under intense pressure as he seeks a first Test century in 28 innings and his team try to arrest a run of seven defeats in nine matches, might easily have gone cheaply again after winning the toss on a bright but cloudy morning.

Instead, he survived on 15 when he poked out at a Pankaj Singh delivery from round the wicket and should have become the debutant's maiden Test victim, only for Ravindra Jadeja to put down a straightforward chance at third slip.

He and Robson were therefore able to share an opening stand of 55, towards a promising 78 for one at lunch.

Cook (48 not out) often appeared tentative, edging the first ball of the match from Bhuvneshwar Kumar short of second slip and also beaten on the outside edge by Mohammed Shami before his scare against first-change Pankaj.

He nonetheless went past Kevin Pietersen into fourth place among England's all-time Test runscorers when he drove Shami past cover for three to go to 22.

Robson was more convincing, with cover-driven fours off Kumar and then Shami, until the latter saw him off with a touch of extra bounce - Jadeja safe this time with the mirror-image chance at third slip.

Cook hinted at growing confidence by cutting Kumar authoritatively for his second boundary, at the start of the seamer's second spell, on the way to his highest score in 10 innings since his half-century in the Melbourne Test last Christmas.

On a pitch with pace and carry, England were doubtless a little relieved to discover there would be no threat from Ishant Sharma - the tall seamer who helped to put India 1-0 up at Lord's six days ago but is injured here.

Pankaj therefore got his opportunity, while England made two changes to their pace attack - Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan replacing Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes.