India found themselves in deep trouble, trailing England by 246 runs but but more importantly needing 47 more runs to avoid a follow-on with only two wickets in hand at the end of day three of the third Test at the The Rose Bowl at Southampton on Tuesday.
At stumps, India were 323 for eight with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (50 batting) still battling, accompanied by Mohammed Shami unbeaten on four.
Indian batsmen did manage to score 109 runs in 34 overs in the final session of the day but lost three crucial wickets, handing England the initiative again.
Ajinkya Rahane, who had played so well for his 54, was dismissed almost immediately after tea.
Ravindra Jadeja (31) and Dhoni added 58 runs for the seventh wicket but once again the Indian batsmen failed to keep going and lost their wicket at a crucial juncture.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (19) and Dhoni added a further 38 runs taking India closer to the follow-on target but Stuart Broad took his third wicket of the match to send the Indian pacer packing.
Shami survived a few nervy moments in the end as England looked to clean up the tail.
James Anderson accounted for three Indian wickets while Moeen Ali chipped in with two.
Earlier, India, who started the day at 25 for one and 569 runs behind, lost both overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara (24) and Murali Vijay (34) rather cheaply before lunch.
The visitors scored 83 runs in 26 overs in the morning session, losing two wickets in the process.
Anderson bustled in, Broad was very clever with his length and Chris Woakes too was impressive. The pace trio gave the talented Indian batting line-up hardly any leeway.
While Anderson, England’s top wicket-taker, gave the hosts the breakthrough Monday, it was his pace partner Broad who did all the damage this morning.
The decision not to give Broad the new ball seemed to spur the pacer on and he bowled with great aggression.
A Broad bouncer caused Pujara all sorts of problems and caught the glove of the Indian batsman.
The ball came back at Pujara off the pitch as he took evasive action, brushed the gloves and went straight into Jos Buttler’s for the first time in Test cricket.
It was payback time for the English pacers as they peppered the Indian batsman with the short ball, a ploy Indian pacer Ishant Sharma adopted at Lord’s to devastating effect.
Vijay had himself to blame as he chopped a Broad good length back into his stumps. It was a very indecisive shot from a man who has built his reputation in the series for being disciplined and decisive outside the off-stump.
After lunch, India looked to be clawing their way back into the match but two timely wickets of Virat Kohli (39) and Rohit Sharma (28) once again put the hosts in total control.
Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s innings were emblematic of the Indian batsmen’s inability to make their good start count.
India were also unable to replicate England, who had a string of big partnerships, and gave their wickets away too cheaply.
Kohli, who has had a forgetful series, looked to be getting back to form but a loose shot outside off-stump saw him edge an Anderson out-swinger to Alastair Cook in the slips.
Rohit Sharma, who strung a 74-run stand with Rahane for the fifth wicket, also looked good before throwing his wicket away with a very poor shot just before tea.