Joe Root kept alive hopes of a famous victory as England engaged with their mission improbable on the final morning of the second Investec Test at Lord's.
Only the departure of Root's fifth-wicket partner Moeen Ali, to the last ball before lunch, spoiled England's work as they reached 173 for five in pursuit of 319.
Root (52no) and Moeen previously shut out India in a gripping session, adding only 68 runs but with relatively few alarms - given the occupational perils of turn and uneven bounce on a last-day pitch.
Moeen, who had his share of fortune the previous evening, needed none on the resumption.
He was under way with a cover-driven four off Ishant Sharma, and an over later edged the tall seamer well short and through third slip for another boundary.
When Root edged Ishant, on 17 off the back foot, he was thankful that Mahendra Singh Dhoni had set first slip Shikhar Dhawan deep and the ball was collected on the bounce only.
England's two likeliest lads, to pull off their team's second-highest all-time successful run chase, duly chalked off their 50 and then century partnership as heavy cloud cover gradually started to lift.
Dhoni, who began the day by pairing Ravindra Jadeja's left-arm spin with Ishant, turned to Bhuvneshwar Kumar - who had taken six first-innings wickets.
There were no easy pickings for Kumar this time, but his metronomic accuracy and hint of swing dried up the runs.
Root responded by using his feet and cashed in England's first boundary in 15 overs when he found an inch or two of width, from up the wicket, and cracked the ball past cover on the up.
Moeen was on 30 for 44 minutes, and 27 balls, but England knew if they could preserve wickets their reward would surely be victory rather than stalemate.
To that end, Root greeted the return of Ishant with three off-side fours in the over to take his boundary count to just five as he completed his three-hour 50 in 122 balls.
But when Dhoni switched tactics, Ishant trying to bounce rather than bowl out the batsmen, first Root was discomforted - and then, on the stroke of lunch, Moeen failed to deal with the new line of attack and gloved a simple catch to short-leg.