Debutant Joe Root's 73 runs and three more wickets from James Anderson combined to put India under pressure on day two of the final Test.
Twenty-one-year-old Root, a surprise inclusion for this match which England must at least draw to complete a series victory, rose to the occasion with a determined 229-ball knock in an England total of 330.
Anderson (three for 24) has been reliable and often expert all tour - and after he induced an India wobble to 87 for four at stumps, the value of Root's fine effort was apparent.
The young Yorkshireman's range of stroke, like everyone else's, was constrained by the limitations of a deathly slow Nagpur pitch. But he was increasingly assured in a century stand with Matt Prior (57) for the sixth wicket, and then one of 60 for the eighth with Graeme Swann (56).
After Kevin Pietersen also made 73 on Thursday, Root could take much of the credit for ensuring England dug out a total of substance since stumbling first to 16 for two and then 139 for five.
Prior beat Root to his half-century, defying the physics of this paceless surface to bag a trademark square-cut off Pragyan Ojha for his sixth four.
There were only two boundaries in Root's 50, and four in all by the time he was done in a composed innings featuring compact defence against spin and the seam of Ishant Sharma - with the sweep his main outlet to slow bowlers. Swann also contributed a fine 50 from 91 deliveries.
When it was India's turn to bat, Anderson bowled the dangerous Virender Sehwag for a duck in the first over, the opener somehow managing to play defensively inside an inswinger and losing his middle stump.
Pujara and Gautam Gambhir shared a half-century stand either side of tea until the number three fell in unfortunate circumstances. Ian Bell produced an outstanding 'catch', diving to his right to take the ball one-handed; the snag, though, was that Swann had beaten the bat and hit Pujara only on the underside of his arm before another deflection off his pad.
Sachin Tendulkar's miserable series continued when Alastair Cook recalled Anderson to take the veteran master batsman's wicket for a record ninth time in Tests. And when Anderson then saw off Gambhir as well in a spell of two for three in four overs, edging an attempted drive behind, it was evident for the first time that England were taking control.