England claimed late wickets to leave the fourth Test in the balance at stumps on the third day in Nagpur on Saturday.
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni's fifth-wicket partnership had given India a slight advantage at the VCA Stadium in Jamtha before James Anderson and Graeme Smith combined to stifle the fightback.
Kohli made 103 in 295 deliveries and Dhoni was run out for 99 as the pair batted for best part of the day, scoring 198 runs in 84.3 overs with India ending the day on 8-297, still trailing the tourists by 33 runs.
At one stage, it looked as if India would take the lead before stumps but Anderson (4-68) and Swann (3-76) struck crucial blows as the hosts lost four wickets in the last hour for 28 runs.
Resuming at 4-87, Kohli was the first wicket to fall, adjudged LBW, immediately after the drinks break as he missed a Swann delivery that pitched on middle and came into the right-hander.
Debutant Ravindra Jadeja (12) did not last long, out in similar fashion to a huge in-swinger from Anderson that caught the left-hander in front of middle and leg.
Dhoni was stuck in the late 90s for close to 70 minutes and then went for a single after pushing the ball to mid-off where Alastair Cook was quick to hit the stumps with the Indian skipper just short of the crease.
England rounded up a fruitful last hour after toiling through the day as Swann got one to turn past the bat of left-handed Piyush Cahwla (1) and peg back the off stump.
Earlier, India had resumed with a mountain to climb and with few expecting them to put up a fight after losing four quick wickets on the second day.
But Kohli and Dhoni curbed their aggressive instincts, scoring just 59 runs in 32 overs, to ensure that India stayed in contention of levelling the series.
The second session began in similar fashion with the pair happy to wear down the bowling and then upped the ante when England claimed the second new ball.
Boundaries came quicker on a pitch that seemed to be perfect for batting as the Kohli and Dhoni took India to tea at 4-227 in 100 overs.
They continued to battle in the final session, bringing back memories of the miracle at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001 when VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted out the entire day against Australia to set up an improbable win after following on.
But England were rewarded for their persistence with a final hour comeback which has effectively made this a one-innings contest.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 15 December, 2012 11:21PM AEST