James Anderson and Ben Stokes struck key blows as England left India struggling on 174-6 on Saturday after the second day of the fifth and final test at The Oval.
Earlier, Jos Buttler struck a brilliant half century to keep England in the game.
Anderson started the decline after tea, grabbing the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara, the hero of India's first innings in the fourth test, and then following that up with the wicket of vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in the space of two runs to reduce India to 103-4. India's captain Virat Kohli top scored for the visitors, making 49 before all-rounder Stokes induced an edge to second slip.
The home side have already built up an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series after victory in Southampton last week.
Earlier, Buttler scored 89 to propel England to 332 all out after the hosts had been reduced to 198-7 at the end of the first day. He got good support from the lower order, particularly Stuart Broad, who scored 38 during a 98-run partnership for the ninth wicket.
Buttler, Anderson, Stokes lead England fightback