LONDON: India's Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane denied England a fresh breakthrough in the second Test at Lord's on Sunday after they batted through the afternoon session.
Even so India, at 105-3 in their second innings, led by just 78 runs come tea on the fourth day.
They were far from out of trouble after Mark Wood had removed both openers before Sam Curran captured the prize wicket of captain Virat Kohli to leave India 56-3 at lunch.
Both Pujara and Rahane have been struggling for runs and this was reflected in their slow scoring rates on Sunday.
Pujara was 29 not out off 148 balls and Rahane unbeaten on 24 off 74, with the pair having taken 29 overs to add 50 runs.
The problem for India, with a session and a day left in the game, was to make sure they made enough runs to set England a challenging total and so avoid falling 1-0 behind in this five-Test series.
Simply batting time might not be enough if the fourth-wicket duo both fell cheaply, even though India had more attacking batsmen to come in Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja.
Play resumed with the match evenly poised after England, with captain Joe Root making 180 not out, had been dismissed for 391 when James Anderson was out to Saturday's last ball. England now had a slender first-innings lead of 27 runs, transforming the match into a one-innings shoot-out.
Anderson, who had taken 5-62 in India's first innings, and Ollie Robinson opened the bowling.
Sussex seamer Robinson was given just two overs before he was replaced by Wood, recalled after Stuart Broad suffered a series-ending calf injury after appearing in last week's rain-marred drawn first Test in Nottingham.
It soon looked an inspired decision by Root.
Opening batsmen KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma had provided the bulk of India's first-innings 364 with 29 and 83 respectively.
But Rahul fell for five on Sunday when, having left the ball so well this series, he edged a 93 mph (150 kph) Wood delivery straight into wicketkeeper Jos Buttler's gloves.
Rohit drew India level when he pulled a 91 mph Wood ball for six. But three balls later Rohit, even though the odds were against him with three men on the boundary for the shot, repeated the stroke.
This time, however, he was well caught low down by Moeen Ali, running in from deep square leg, for 21 and India were effectively none for two.
Kohli got off the mark with a cover-driven four off Wood.
By contrast, Pujara took 35 balls to score his first run with a single off Curran greeted by huge, if ironic, cheers from the large contingent of India fans in a sun-drenched crowd and a touch of the gloves from Kohli.
The India skipper survived Curran's review for lbw on height after being rapped on the pad by an inswinger.
There was no need for technology, however, when, still on 20 and seemingly playing for the ball that came back, Kohli edged a delivery angled across him and was caught behind off a thin nick, with Curran setting off on a joyful run in celebration.
So becalmed were India after lunch it was not until his 118th ball faced that Pujara hit his first boundary, when he clipped Wood off his pads.
Off-spinner Moeen got the odd delivery to turn but a docile pitch remained a generally good surface on which to bat and there were still 27 overs until the new ball became available.