England made a stunning start to the fourth Investec Test, claiming four Indian wickets in six overs as Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to bat first backfired spectacularly.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson, the latter excelling once again as controversy over his altercation with Ravindra Jadeja in the series opener continues to fester, took two wickets each in a thrilling first half-hour to leave the tourists eight for four.

England's new ball duo would have been encouraged by Dhoni's gamble, taking place as it did under leaden skies at Emirates Old Trafford following a 30-minute rain delay.

But the reality was even more enticing, Broad finding pace and carry off a hard track and Anderson coaxing the ball in to the batsman and away from bat in a swing bowling masterclass.

Recalled opener Gautam Gambhir was first to fall, Broad squaring Shikhar Dhawan's replacement up to have him caught at gully off the shoulder of the bat.

Cheteshwar Pujara almost followed four balls later, Broad nipping one off the pitch and somehow missing middle stump as he cut through a ragged defence.

Anderson, having escaped a ban that briefly threatened to rule him out of his home Test, then bowled a wonderful double wicket maiden.

Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli were both victims of the same two-card trick, a full inswinger to line them up and a perfectly pitched outswinger to follow.

Both obliged with the nick and captain Alastair Cook snaffled both catches a waist height.

In doing so, the Anderson-Cook catching combination overtook Ian Botham-Bob Willis as England's most productive in Tests.

India were shellshocked but worse was to come as they lost a fourth wicket without adding to the total, Pujara's hard hands steering Broad to the waiting Chris Jordan at third slip.

With four wickets in 13 balls, England had already claimed a dominant position.