India's fast bowlers kept them in the contest on the opening day of the fourth Test at The Oval on Thursday.
Jasprit Bumrah (2-15) and Umesh Yadav (1-15) pushed England back as they ended the day on 53-3, behind India's total of 191.
The visitors were put into bat on another overcast day and England quicks extracted the most out of a green surface. Captain Virat Kohli battled his way to a fifty but the hosts' seamers were in complete control, with the returning Chris Woakes (4-55) and Ollie Robinson (3-38) leaving the Indians in a familiar struggle at 127-7.
And then came a record innings. Seam bowler Shardul Thakur hit the fastest Test fifty in England before India were dismissed for 191.
The recalled all-rounder, who had not played since suffering a hamstring injury during the drawn series opener at Trent Bridge, came in with India in deep trouble.
But Thakur launched into a counter attack, as he raced to fifty in just 31 balls, including six fours and three sixes. He was eventually out lbw for 57 to Woakes.
Thakur's half century surpassed England great Ian Botham's 32-ball fifty against New Zealand, also at the Oval, in 1986 as the quickest in a Test in England.
Woakes, playing his first Test in over a year because of injuries and Covid complications, took 4-55 in 15 overs.
However, England's grip on the game was loosened significantly by Bumrah, who wiped out both openers in his first two overs.
Burns was first to go for five, diverting the ball into his stumps with a crooked bat, before Haseeb Hameed slashed to Pant for an unbecoming duck. At 6-2, Root joined Dawid Malan in the middle.
Joe Root has been the standout batsman in the series by a distance and he was typically assured as he and Dawid Malan took the England score past 50.
With stumps just around the corner he, and the entire Oval crowd, were stunned as Yadav yanked one back in off the seam and bowled him through a tiny gate between bat and pad.