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Dogged resistance by Joe Root and England's late order helped the hosts recover from a precarious 205 for 7 to reach 352/9 at stumps on day three to blunt the effort of Indian pacers and cut down the visitors lead to 105.
A six-wicket burst by India, thanks to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4 for 61) and Ishant Sharma (3 for 109), after lunch left England worried, but a rearguard action by Root (78*), Stuart Broad (47 off 42) and James Anderson (23*) kept the Indian bowlers at bay in the final session.
Earlier, Ishant's triple strike post lunch lifted India after a wicketless first session as the hosts lost six wickets to slip to 205 for 7, staring at conceding a huge first-innings lead in response to India's 457.
Overnight England batsmen Sam Robson and Gary Ballance scored confident half-centuries in the morning on a placid track that has come in for a fair degree of criticism.
They took the England score from 43 for 1 to 131 for 1, laying the foundation to at least match India's score if not take a lead.
Indian bowlers were guilty of bowling short of a length on a track that offered little assistance; hence, none of the them troubled the Robson-Ballance duo, who, after scoring just 6 runs in the first fiver overs of the day, got their act together to score 88 runs in the first two hours on day three.
But resuming from a solid position after lunch, Robson couldn't add to his 59 and fell lbw in the second over of the session bowled by Sharma - ending the 125-run partnership. Ballance followed Robson in similar fashion after scoring 71.
Ian Bell came out flashing his blade and struck six fours in his 25 but played a false shot while going after a wide delivery. The resultant edge was caught safely by India skipper and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni. England slipped to 172 for 4.
Moeen Ali was bounced out by Mohammad Shami for 14, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar took care of Matt Prior for 5, though it looked a dodgy caught-behind decision. With no DRS in the series, a dejected Prior had to take the long walk back.
Kumar then struck again in the same over, removing Ben Stokes for a duck off the second ball he faced, which he edged straight to Dhoni.
Stuart Broad then joined Root and both took England to tea seven wickets down and still 252 runs in the arrears.
Broad, who had been severely critical of the state of his Nottinghamshire home pitch, counter-attacked after tea.
To the first delivery with the new ball, left-handed batsman Broad stroked Kumar through extra cover for four as England avoided the follow-on. But having made a dashing 47, he was lbw to an inswinging delivery from Kumar to end a quickfire stand of 78.
Broad made his displeasure at Dharmasena's decision clear but replays confirmed the ball had pitched in line and would have hit the stumps.
Kumar then bowled Liam Plunkett to leave England 298 for nine.
But Root and Anderson dug in to deny India the final wicket. Root brought up his fifth Test half century and was 78 unbeaten, while Anderson was 23 not out.