England need seven wickets to win the fourth Specsavers Test and with it the series after reducing India to 46 for three at lunch on day four at Southampton.
Seeking a decisive third win in the five-match series, England’s resistance lasted just 26 balls of the their second innings on the penultimate day, giving India plenty of time to chase a victory target of 245.
But the tourists lost KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan in quick succession and were perhaps fortunate not to see captain Virat Kohli sent back to the pavilion in an action-packed opening session.
Rahul was bowled for a duck by Stuart Broad with a delivery which kept low and India were 17 for two when James Anderson struck for the first time in the match, trapping Pujara lbw.
The tourists were in big trouble when Anderson bagged his second wicket in his next over as Dhawan edged to Ben Stokes at third slip and England thought they had taken the vital wicket of Kohli when he appeared to be trapped lbw by Moeen Ali.
After their appeal was turned down England reviewed the decision and it looked as though Kohli’s bat had hit his front pad as the ball went past, but third umpire Joel Wilson interpreted a spike on UltraEdge as an inside-edge.
England captain Joe Root was visibly annoyed and his mood was not improved when India successfully reviewed the decision when Ajinkya Rahane was initially given lbw to Sam Curran, the tourists reaching lunch 199 runs short of their victory target.
The hosts resumed on 260 for eight, but suffered an immediate blow as Broad fell for a golden duck to the first delivery as Mohammed Shami completed his over from Saturday evening.
Anderson ensured Shami missed out on a hat-trick after joining Curran in the middle, but Curran fell four short of his second half-century of the match when he was run out attempting an unlikely second to third man off Ravi Ashwin.
Ishant Sharma’s throw was too good, and England were all out for 271.