Two moments of brilliance in the field dragged England back into the equation on day two of the third Test against India.
The tourists’ 283 all out was beginning to seem woefully under par in Mohali when Virat Kohli (62) and Cheteshwar Pujara (51) were sharing an ominous third-wicket stand of 75 to more than double India’s reply.
But immediately after tea Chris Woakes pulled off a wonderful diving catch to cut Pujara off in his prime when he smashed an Adil Rashid long-hop to deep midwicket.
Then an even more memorable piece of fielding from Jos Buttler - a diving stop at point from Kohli’s square-drive, and direct-hit with an off-balance throw - ran out the luckless debutant Karun Nair.
In between, Rashid (three for 81) took his series wicket haul to 16 when he had Ajinkya Rahane lbw for a duck, missing a googly on the front-foot defence - and suddenly, despite recovering to 271 for six at stumps, India were no longer assured of a substantial first-innings lead.
Three wickets had fallen for eight runs, and Rashid had already surpassed the great Shane Warne’s best series haul in India - and that of all but two other visiting leg-spinners in history.
Kohli continued past his half-century only to extend his and Ben Stokes’ personal history in this series by taking the invitation to guide more runs into a packed off-side field off the all-rounder and this time edge behind.
A hobbling Ravi Ashwin (57no) then took toll of a tiring attack to reach his half-century in just 77 balls, however, as he combined with Ravindra Jadeja in an unbroken stand of 67 in what had become an intriguingly tight contest.
After adding 15 runs to their overnight 268 for eight, England had set out to prove to themselves and their supporters that they had not effectively lost this match with some careless batting on day one.
But there appeared to be a tension about their work with the new ball - and curiously none of the swing Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav had found for the hosts.
A bizarre early appeal for obstructing the field against Murali Vijay, who barely moved an inch when James Anderson threw the ball back towards the stumps with the batsman just out of his ground but obviously able to regain it if necessary, was never going to succeed but did betray a perceived deterioration of relations between these two teams.
Stokes’ reprimand for his spat with Kohli after being dismissed the previous afternoon cannot have helped.
If England felt any injustice over that, their mood did not lift either after stand-in opener Parthiv Patel rightly overturned a caught-behind decision against him when DRS demonstrated the ball from Woakes hit only the left-hander’s tummy.
Murali survived on 11 when Buttler could not cling on to what would have been a spectacular diving catch at midwicket.
But he had added only that single when Stokes struck in his first over - with a short and wide ball which the batsman chased, edged behind and gave himself out even as umpire Chris Gaffaney was deciding otherwise.
Rashid’s bold review for lbw paid off in early afternoon, with Parthiv well up the pitch when he missed a leg-break.
England then produced their most disciplined session of bowling since the drawn first Test in Rajkot to make Pujara and Kohli work hard for their runs.
It was admirable, from Anderson and Woakes in particular, but it did not bring the breakthrough England craved against India’s two heavyweights before tea - Stokes coming closest when Jonny Bairstow just failed to hold a tough chance down the leg-side, with Pujara on 31.
Only in the evening session did England’s renewed tenacity and individual skill pay off.
Their own patchy innings had concluded early in the morning.
Rashid fell to his first ball of the day, caught-behind from a good one that left him off the pitch, and Shami (three for 63) doubled up by having Gareth Batty lbw on the back foot - the last of four wickets to fall for 25 runs.
Meanwhile, England opener Haseeb Hameed was off the field after being hit on the left little finger while batting on day one, for the second time in the series. He is expected to have an x-ray at the end of this Test.
India have released both uncapped all-rounder Hardik Pandya and opener KL Rahul from their squad, with respective shoulder and arm injuries. Rahul should be fit again in time for the fourth Test in Mumbai.