Ben Stokes (70) and Jonny Bairstow (53) showed the “fight” England’s coaches had called for, but the tourists were still undone by spinner Ravi Ashwin as they were bowled out for 255 to concede a 200-run deficit before tea in Vizag.
Their task then was to stall India’s second-innings run-rate as efficiently as possible to try to minimise the time they must bat in pursuit of a stalemate over the last two days.
Two early wickets from Stuart Broad helped the cause, and then James Anderson bowled first-innings centurion Cheteshwar Pujara through the gate.
But Virat Kohli (56 not out) bolstered his team’s advantage in an unbroken half-century stand with Ajinkya Rahane (22no) as the hosts reached 98 for three at stumps on a surface beginning to show increasingly worrying signs of variable bounce.
Stokes and Bairstow heeded the call from assistant coach Paul Farbrace to muster more resilience, after England had faltered to 80 for five in reply to 455 on the second evening.
The sixth-wicket pair were already partially absolved, having batted through much of the final hour on Friday, and they extended their stand to 110 on Saturday.
Yet after each fell either side of lunch, England remained in a perilous position and were unable to stem the tide further as Ashwin went on to take England’s last two wickets in two balls to finish with five for 67.
Bairstow was bowled aiming across a near yorker from Umesh Yadav, and Stokes fell in curious circumstances - given out lbw to Ashwin, confirmed on review despite some of the video evidence pointing to an inside-edge on to pad.
As the ball then plopped into the hands of silly-point, the mode of dismissal in the scorebook was largely academic because one way or another, Stokes had to go.
He had cashed in already on an uncanny piece of luck the previous evening, ‘bowled’ for three by Jayant Yadav when the ball brushed the off bail but failed to dislodge it.
On the resumption, Kohli deployed a spin-pace combination through the first hour, during which England suffered no alarms.
Bairstow’s only moment of concern came before he took strike, when he stumbled just as he walked out to bat and appeared to twist an ankle.
Once in the middle, this year’s leading Test runscorer was soon walking and batting soundly.
Stokes and Bairstow had already almost doubled the England total by the time India turned again to spin at both ends, the left-hander reaching his 108-ball 50 and his partner following from 137 deliveries shortly afterwards.
The century stand, this pair’s third of a prolific year, also came up with the same Bairstow boundary - a thick edge to third man off Ravindra Jadeja.
Neither could go on to what might have been a priceless century, however, and without them it was down to Adil Rashid to reduce the arrears as best he could.
But he was left on his own after Zafar Ansari chanced DRS to no avail when he was stuck on the crease lbw to Jadeja and Ashwin completed the innings with his two in two.
Broad’s dismissal could have been overturned had England any reviews left, and Anderson then immediately took the innings lbw count to five.
England made short work of India’s openers second time round, as they had in the first innings, Broad with both wickets as he set aside the discomfort in his right foot which was the subject of scans overnight to try to determine the extent of the injury.
He needed DRS on each occasion, proving Murali Vijay’s deflection on to pad before a catch at gully and then a thin outside-edge as KL Rahul went caught-behind.
There was no such verification needed when Anderson snaked one back through Pujara’s defence to make it 40 for three, but Kohli kept his team in control as he took his match aggregate well above 200 runs.