Matt Prior made a thrilling century to rescue England from 62-5 and set-up a charge for victory on the final day of the opening Test at Lord’s.
Prior finished unbeaten on 103, his third Test ton at the Home of Cricket, with Stuart Broad adding a marvelous 74 not out as England declared on 269-6, setting India 458 to win.
Broad then removed young opener Abinhav Makund for 12 but Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman guided India to 80-1 at the close.
The match is wonderfully poised ahead of day five, with India facing the prospect of batting through the day with three players suffering illness and injury.
Sachin Tendulkar will be unable to bat until around 2pm (or after India have lost five wickets - whichever comes soonest) after being off the field with a viral infection for the opening two sessions.
Gautam Ghambir is yet to bat after taking a blow in the field and Zaheer Khan – who didn’t bowl in the second innings – is suffering a hamstring strain.
Sharma shakes England
England, starting the day on 5-0, had their sights set on batting their way steadily to a declaration target against an India attack once again deprived of star bowler Zaheer.
Praveen Kumar, the pick of India’s seamers in the first innings, got the breakthrough quickly though, as Alastair Cook feathered an edge through to wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for just one.
Andrew Strauss, desperate for a score, looked in good nick early on and he and Jonathan Trott appeared to be making the most of a flat looking track, taking the score to 62-1.
India had appeared limp in the opening exchanges but Ishant Sharma, who went wicketless in their first innings, transformed the tempo of the Test match with a scintillating spell.
Harbhajan Singh sparked a collapse, trapping Strauss LBW as he attempted to sweep a ball which straightened on him.
That opened the door for the 22-year-old Sharma to rattle through the England middle order.
Pietersen was surprised by a short ball which he gloved through to Dhoni and Ian Bell joined him in the Pavilion a couple of balls later, chasing a wide one and edging to the ‘keeper.
Trott was the next to depart, in spectacular fashion. Sharma angled one into the number three, getting it to dart between bat and pad, rearranging his stumps.
England regrouped either side of Lunch – which they took on 72-5 – through Eoin Morgan and Prior, the last two recognised batsmen.
But Morgan succumbed to Sharma shortly afterwards, mistiming a pull and being caught by Gambhir, who pulled out a full length dive. Morgan initially stood his ground, forcing the umpires to review the catch, but was quickly sent on his way.
Gambhir was in the action again later in the afternoon, leaving the field with a heavily bruised elbow after being struck on the elbow by a brutal Prior sweep when fielding at short leg.
The England wicket-keeper played another consummate counter attacking innings at the Home of Cricket – the ground where he made a century on his debut back in 2007.
He and Broad reasserted England’s dominance initially, through some energetic running between the wickets then, as the bowlers tired, with some expansive strokeplay.
Prior was allowed to reach his century, his third in his past five Tests, by Strauss who delayed a possible declaration.
Prior accelerated to three figures though, reaching it from 120 balls - his partnership with Broad worth 162 from only 166 balls.
England set about India with the ball but managed only the wicket of Mukund from the 27 overs before the close.
Dravid (opening instead of Gambhir) and Laxman (promoted to number three) survived a torrid spell against Chris Tremlett and Broad immediately after the wicket.
They settled into an excellent rhythm prior to the close though, as England struggled to extract much life from a pitch which remains extremely good for batting.
India require another 378 runs to win; England need nine wickets. It should be a fascinating day's play.
MCC will put around 20,000 tickets on the gates with prices just £20 for adults; £10 for over-65s and free for under-16s.