England took four late wickets after Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni had reignited India's hopes of levelling the Test series with a 198-run partnership on day three in Nagpur.
The right-handed duo batted for almost the entire third day, sharing a mammoth fifth-wicket partnership to help the rejuvenated hosts close on 297-8 - a first-innings deficit of just 33.
Despite the fightback from the hosts, England had the final say when dismissing both, as well as Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, during a manic final hour.
Kohli (103), who has now scored more runs in 2012 than any other player, reached a patient century after tea, only to fall in Graeme Swann's following over when the off-spinner pinned him lbw.
Dhoni looked destined to join him on three figures, but in a sensational end to the day, he was run out at the start of the penultimate over when Alastair Cook threw down the stumps with him fractionally short of his ground.
Debutant Ravindra Jadeja (12) had fallen in between when he was caught on the crease by a vicious James Anderson inswinger to hand the England seamer his fourth wicket.
And Swann gave England the perfect end to a day India had largely dominated when he bowled Piyush Chawla with what turned out to the final ball.
Resuming day three with his side precariously placed on 87-4 in reply to England's 330, India skipper Dhoni, up one place in the order at No.6, combined superbly with Kohli to frustrate an increasingly-irritated England.
Restrained during a morning session which yielded just 59 runs, Kohli and Dhoni took the attack to the tourists after the lunch interval, seeing off the second new ball in the process.
Kohli, whose highest score in the series was 20 before this knock, struck eight boundaries to reach tea poised on 77, while Dhoni upped the ante with seven fours and one towering six off Swann to move along to 75no.
Kohli went to his third century of a year to remember with an 11th boundary off Swann, but the England spinner got his revenge with a sharply spinning delivery from round the wicket which trapped him lbw.
Debutant Jadeja endured a couple of streaky moments in his first Test knock, and, after surviving one huge lbw appeal from Anderson, he was sent on his way moments later when the Lancastrian struck him in line.
Dhoni appeared to be lingering on 99 for an eternity and in his haste to reach a sixth Test century he set off for a risky single when pushing Anderson to opposite number Cook at mid-off.
Cook was alert to the situation, though, swooping and throwing down the one stump he had to aim at to keep Dhoni running, back to the pavilion.
Chawla then had no answer to a spinning Swann delivery, which crashed into off stump.
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