England were 114 for two in their second innings, a lead of 154 runs, at stumps on the third day of the fifth Test against India at the Oval on Sunday.
Alastair Cook, in his final innings before international retirement, was 46 not out and Joe Root, his successor as England captain, 29 not out.
Their unbroken partnership for the third wicket was worth 52 runs at the close.
Earlier, Ravindra Jadeja marked his return to India duty by top-scoring with 86 not out as England's James Anderson was kept waiting for a landmark wicket .
Jadeja also shared a seventh-wicket stand of 77 with Hanuma Vihari, who made 56 on debut, as India finished on 292 all out -- just 40 runs behind England's first innings 332.
England paceman Anderson took two for 54 in 21 overs to leave him two shy of Australia great Glenn McGrath's record of 563 Test wickets, the most taken by any fast bowler.
Before play started on Sunday, the International Cricket Council announced Anderson had been fined 15 percent of his match for "speaking in an aggressive manner" to umpire Kumar Dharmasena on Saturday after an lbw review against India captain Virat Kohli went the way of the star batsman.
Kohli eventually fell to Ben Stokes for 49, strengthening an England grip on the game established earlier in the day by Jos Buttler making 89 on his 28th birthday.
India resumed in trouble at 174 for six, with Vihari 25 not out and Jadeja, recalled in place of the injured Ravichandran Ashwin, unbeaten on eight.
The veteran new-ball duo of Stuart Broad and Anderson were straight into the attack on an overcast Sunday morning.
England lead this five-match series 3-1.
SCORES IN BRIEF
ENGLAND: First innings 332
INDIA: First innings 292 (Rahul 37, Pujara 37, Kohli 49, Vihari 56, Jadeja 86 not out; Anderson 2-54, Stokes 2-56, Ali 2-50)
ENGLAND: Second innings 114 for 2 (Cook 46 not out, Root 29 not out)