After winning the toss, England lost both of its opening batsmen, Rory Burns (6) and Dom Sibley (22), to leave Crawley and captain Joe Root to rebuild the innings.
Playing for Warwickshire, Sibley had scored an unbeaten 215 against Nottinghamshire last year with premier India off-spinner Ashwin being among the opposition bowlers.
This is the first time that umpires intervened for sanitising the ball during an international cricket match since the new COVID-19 guidelines were announced by the ICC.
England was meandering along at a run rate of 2.44, with the leave often being the shot of choice, especially for Sibley.
Sibley said looking at his teammates going through the grind made him self-conscious and he lost 12 kg during the coronavirus-forced break.