Skipper Virat Kohli fell shortly before tea to leave India on 126 for 4 on the fourth day just when they had begun dreaming of victory in an absorbing fourth Test against England on Sunday.
Chasing 245 to level the series India were reduced to 22 for 3 in the morning session, but Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane dug deep on a pitch offering plenty of help for spin and seam bowling.
They shared a century partnership to take the score to 123 for 3 before Kohli, the outstanding batsman in the series, fell after a fighting innings of 58.
Playing forward to Moeen Ali, the ball bounced and spun off his glove and into the grateful hands of Alastair Cook at short leg who seconds earlier had put down a much harder chance.
Rahane was 44 not out at tea with Hardik Pandya yet to score as India required another 119 runs.
India wrapped up England's second innings for the addition of only 11 runs to leave an absorbing test balanced on a knife edge but a superb opening spell by James Anderson and Stuart Broad left their hopes in tatters.
It could have been even worse for India with Kohli surviving an England review after being rapped on the pads by Moeen.
Only three times have India scored 200 plus in their second innings to win a test match outside Asia and on a dry and worn pitch logic suggested England were favourites as India's openers walked out to the crease under clear blue skies.
It took only until the first ball of the third over to underline just how difficult their task was when a full-length Broad delivery kept low and flattened KL Rahul's off stump.
Anderson then sent Cheteshwar Pujara, whose century helped India post a small first-innings lead, back to the pavilion after rapping him on the back thigh with an inswinger.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan struck three boundaries but never looked comfortable against England's high-calibre seamers and he fell for 17 in Anderson's next over, thick-edging to Ben Stokes at gully after being squared up by a beauty.
SCORES IN BRIEF
ENGLAND: First innings 246
INDIA: First innings 273
ENGLAND: Second innings 271 (Jennings 36, Root 48, Stokes 30, Buttler 69, Curran 46; Sharma 2-36, Shami 4-57)
INDIA: Second innings 126 for 4 (Dhawan 17, Kohli 58, Rahane 44 not out; Anderson 2-33)