England, chasing a first Test win in 10 matches after series defeats by Australia and Sri Lanka, lost three wickets in 20 balls to leave them teetering at 72 for four.
Joe Root (14) and Moeen Ali (15) ensured there was no further damage, and will resume on Monday needing a further 214 runs for victory as England eye their second-highest successful fourth-innings chase and biggest at Lord's.
Their target is at least 50 runs more that they would have liked, but a thrilling 99-run, eighth-wicket stand between Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took India's lead past the 300 mark.
Having lost Sam Robson for seven in a tricky period before tea, Alastair Cook and Gary Ballance set about building a platform after the break.
They put on 58 for the second wicket before Ballance (27), who hit 110 in the first innings, was caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the first ball of Mohammed Shami's second spell, a hint of away movement taking an edge.
In the next over, Ian Bell (1) missed a straight ball from Ishant Sharma to leave his side teetering at 71 for three, and shortly afterwards the willowy right-armer also got rid of the out-of-form Cook for 22, caught again by Dhoni behind the stumps.
England's captain, without a Test century in over a year, has now scored 115 runs in his last seven innings, the pressure on the 29-year-old likely to increase further after this latest failure.
With Matt Prior and Ben Stokes both struggling for form, much rests on the shoulders of Root and Moeen should England have any hope of avoiding defeat on the final day.
Earlier Jadeja and Kumar put on 99 runs in 100 balls as they hit the England attack to all corners of the ground.
Jadeja, frequently booed by the Lord's crowd over a clash with England paceman James Anderson during the drawn first match at Trent Bridge, brought up his maiden test half-century off 42 balls before falling for 68.
Number nine Kumar continued his fine start to the series, passing 50 for the third time in four innings, having taken career best bowling figures of 6-82 in England's first innings.
He was last man out as India were dismissed for 342.
Opener Murali Vijay top-scored, falling five runs short of a ton when caught by Prior off Anderson shortly after the new ball was taken after spending over six hours in the middle.
- Sports & Recreation
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Gary Ballance
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni
- Alastair Cook
- Moeen Ali