Ishant Sharma's three-wicket burst and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's four triggered an England collapse before Joe Root's unbeaten half-century saw the hosts survive the third day in the first Test against India, in Nottingham, on Friday.
England finished Day 3 on 352 for 9, in 106 overs, still 105 runs behind India's first innings of 457.
Root saved England the blushes with a fine innings of 78 not out. He was involved in an unbroken stand of 54 runs for the last wicket with James Anderson, who scored an unbeaten 23.
England were in a comfortable position at 131 for one, with the young duo of Gary Ballance (71) and Sam Robson (59) helping themselves to well-made half-centuries before things took a different turn in the post-lunch session when they lost six wickets for 74 runs.
While it was Ishant (3/109), who rocked the top-order with three quick dismissals, Bhuvneshwar's (4/61) controlled swing bowling decimated the lower-middle order.
Mohammed Shami (2/98) chipped in with a couple of key wickets.
England recovered in the final session from a precarious 205 for seven mainly due to Root's responsible effort as they scored 147 runs in the final session for the loss of two wickets.
Apart from his stand with Anderson, Root shared a 78-run eighth wicket partnership with all-rounder Stuart Broad, who smashed 47 off 42 balls with nine fours.
While England scored 309 runs in the 89 overs of play possible on the day, credit must be given to the Indian seamers for the manner in which they made most of a lifeless track where the ball didn't do much for the better part.
The spell by Ishant in the post-lunch session was one of the best he had bowled in recent times; he was nippy and also get movement off the pitch on both sides.
Robson and Ballance were trapped leg before wicket in the space of a few overs after their 125-run stand for the second wicket.
Ian Bell was dismissed caught behind for 25. He decided to leave the ball quite late after initially deciding to hit it through the off-side but only getting the bottom edge.
Moeen Ali (14) looked comfortable in the middle as he hit a couple of cracking boundaries but he was dismissed by Shami, trying to duck under a bouncer which hit the gloves and went straight into the hands of Shikhar Dhawan at first slip.
Kumar then struck twice, removing Matt Prior (5) and Ben Stokes (0), both caught behind by Dhoni.
The former though was unlucky as umpire Kumar Dharmasena adjudged him caught behind despite not getting an edge and Stokes fell in the same over, nicking it behind to Dhoni.
Bhuvneshwar then stepped up at the end of the day to grab four wickets -- those of Matt Prior, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Liam Plunkett to finish with impressive figures of 4 for 61.
Image: India's players celebrate the wicket of Moeen Ali.
Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images