Matthew Hoggard claimed a five-wicket haul as England prospered at both ends of the third day in the Nagpur Test.
Yorkshire swing bowler Hoggard, so often England's unsung hero, struck three times in his opening three overs to unhinge the Indian top order and struck again early in the middle session to reduce the home team took to 190 for seven.
Although they had not reached the follow-on target at that juncture, a 128-run stand, equalling the highest for an Indian eighth-wicket pair against England, between Mohammad Kaif and Anil Kumble redressed the situation.
It took 58 overs to separate them, in fact, and both fell in quick succession as Steve Harmison profited from a loose drive from Kumble and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar defeated Kaif with a wonder ball which turned and hit off stump to signal the close of play at 322 for nine.
They came together in a scoring drought as only five runs came in the first eight overs after lunch, four of them from a thick outside edge from Kumble off Hoggard.
But England failed to build on their control as three chances went begging.
Flintoff failed to hold on, in his follow-through, after shoving his right hand out to a Kaif drive while wicketkeeper Geraint Jones missed a more straightforward opportunity when he grassed a low edge from Kumble off the bowling of Harmison.
Neither batsman had mustered 20 by that stage and when Flintoff failed to get down to another edge through the slips off Harmison, Kumble had progressed to 34.
England made light work of the top order earlier as debutant Panesar claimed the prize scalp of Sachin Tendulkar as his maiden Test victim and captain Flintoff sent back the dangerous Mahendra Dhoni between Hoggard's two superb spells.
India resumed on 136 for one but Hoggard halted a century stand for the second wicket when he removed captain Rahul Dravid with a ball which nipped back viciously to gain a leg-before decision.
Then in his next over, Hoggard claimed wo in two balls, a double strike which altered the complexion of the contest.
Opener Wasim Jaffer's first Test innings for four years, worth 81, came to its conclusion when he was drawn into a drive which flew low to slip where Andrew Flintoff made the catch look easy.
Just as Dravid had before him, VVS Laxman perished to a delivery which shaped back to hit the pads.
Hoggard had to wait until his next over, the 55th of the innings, for a chance at securing the second international hat-trick of his career.
It did not materialise as Kaif jabbed down on a delivery to send the ball just short of Kevin Pietersen at a short cover position.
Hoggard, who dismissed Virender Sehwag yesterday, was given a deserved rest after a burst of 6-3-6-3.
Tendulkar displayed signs of his old self but fell when he misjudged a Panesar delivery which clipped the pad in front of off stump before striking the bat.
Panesar reacted to umpire Aleem Dar raising his finger with a manic dash towards backward point, where he was mobbed by his new international colleagues.
As one Indian golden boy departed, however, another entered in the form of Dhoni. But the cheers reverberating around the stands had barely subsided when Flintoff enticed a nick to leave India in danger of a large first-innings deficit.
Just three overs into the middle session Irfan Pathan's dismissal provided Hoggard with a sixth five-wicket haul in Tests, Flintoff snapping up another smart slip catch.
England had taken six wickets for 50 runs at that stage but the second half of the day proved fruitless.
India v England
India First Innings Close
W Jaffer c Flintoff b Hoggard 81
V Sehwag c Pietersen b Hoggard 2
R Dravid lbw b Hoggard 40
S R Tendulkar lbw b Panesar 16
V V S Laxman lbw b Hoggard 0
M Kaif b Panesar 91
M S Dhoni c G O Jones b Flintoff 5
I K Pathan c Flintoff b Hoggard 2
A Kumble c Cook b Harmison 58
Harbhajan Singh not out 0
Extras b17 lb3 w5 nb2 27
Total 9 wkts (135.4 overs) 322
Fall: 1-11 2-140 3-149 4-149 5-176 6-183 7-190 8-318 9-322
To Bat: S Sreesanth.
Bowling: Hoggard 30 13 57 5
Harmison 27 5 75 1
Flintoff 29 10 68 1
Panesar 41.4 19 72 2
Blackwell 7 0 28 0
Bell 1 0 2 0Reuse content