India were 112 for four, still needing a further 333 runs to make what would be a new record 445 to win, at stumps on the fourth day of the third Test.
Renowned for their ability to play spin, India lost three wickets to Moeen Ali and Joe Root -- both primarily batsmen and regarded as 'part-time' off-break bowlers.
Ajinkya Rahane was 18 not out and Rohit Sharma, dropped on five, six not out.
The most any side has made in the fourth innings to win a Test is the 418 for seven by the West Indies against Australia at St John's in 2002/03.
There was one concerning moment for England after play ended when paceman James Anderson, celebrating his 32nd birthday Wednesday, was spoken to by the umpires after appearing to have words with Rahane.
Anderson is already facing disciplinary action by the International Cricket Council following his bust-up with India's Ravindra Jadeja during the drawn first Test at Trent Bridge and could be banned from the rest of this series if a teleconference hearing on Friday goes against him.
After Anderson took the two wickets needed to wrap up India's first innings, England captain Alastair Cook opted against enforcing the follow-on.
England then made a brisk 205 for four before Cook declared.
The last thing India, 1-0 up in the five-match series after their 95-run win in the second Test at Lord's, needed now was a run out.
Yet that was exactly what they got.
Shikhar Dhawan clipped the ball onto the onside but Murali Vijay (12) just failed to beat Stuart Broad's underarm throw from short midwicket.
And 26 for one became 29 for two when Ali struck second ball to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara (two) with the aid of a sharp slip catch by Chris Jordan.
- Root hunch pays off -
After India had started to rebuild, Cook's decision to bring on Root proved inspired when he dismissed the well-set Dhawan for 37.
Root produced a classic off-break which turned away from the left-hander and found the outside edge, with Jordan holding another smart slip catch.
Ali, reprimanded by the International Cricket Council for wearing 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands earlier in this match, then found himself centre stage again for his bowling.
He produced a ball that went straight on with the arm and the struggling Virat Kohli (28) pushed hard, with England debutant wicketkeeper Jos Buttler holding the outside edge at the second attempt.
India were now 89 for four on another sunny day ideal for batting and on an essentially good pitch.
And they would have been 102 for five had Anderson held a low but catchable return chance off Sharma.
India, 323 for eight overnight in reply to England's first innings 569 for seven declared, were dismissed for 330.
Anderson took two wickets for one run in six balls to finish with five for 53 in 26.1 overs -- the 16th time in 97 Tests he had taken five wickets in an innings.
He had India captain Mahendra Dhoni, top-edging a pull, caught behind for his overnight 50 by Buttler before the same combination saw off Mohammed Shami.
England then got the quick runs they wanted, with Cook sweeping left-arm spinner Jadeja for four to complete his second fifty of the match.
It was the first time Cook, who made 95 in the first innings, had scored two fifties in a Test since his 96 and 106 against Sri Lanka at Lord's in 2011.
Meanwhile Root, playing exactly the innings England required, struck 13 runs in one Bhuvneshwar Kumar over.
He was eventually bowled by Jadeja for 56 off 41 balls with nine fours.
Left-handed opener Cook (70 not out) promptly declared after adding 99 in just 87 balls with Root.