Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes found some belated fight for England. More than an hour of hilarity before stumps made sure we need to show up on day five at Trent Bridge for one more wicket. But amid all this drama, you could not deny that India once again proved themselves to be the superior side in this game and that the England batting once again proved to be brittle. Despite England's biggest-ever fourth-innings partnership - 169 runs between Buttler and Stokes - there were chunks of wickets on either side that hurt them: first four for 35, and then four for 10.
Ishant Sharma was largely responsible for the first slide, and Jasprit Bumrah was sensational with the second new ball after the final drinks break of the day. Only a wicket off a no-ball, which delayed the completion of a second five-for in four Tests for Bumrah, sent the match into the fifth day. In between Buttler scored England's first Test hundred of the year from positions 1 to 6 and Stokes scored his slowest half-century to at least set some sort of example for their team-mates.
England will take some confidence from the partnership between Buttler and Stokes, they will know it is possible to bat against India - that's all you can do when chasing 520 with no rain to save you - but they were still left with more frustration than answers. The openers continued to disappoint, Joe Root and Ollie Pope continued to be undisciplined, and as soon as the new ball was taken, the rest all but fell in a heap.
Their issues start at the top. In four of their five innings this series, the two openers have got off to soft starts with India spraying the new ball around for the first eight-nine overs. Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings have enjoyed that generosity, but it is difficult to imagine an India batsman throwing away such free starts on all five occasions. It is as if the sight of Ishant Sharma freezes the pair of them no matter how set they are.
Neither of them is sure what to play and what to leave as Ishant angles deliveries in and then gets them to move away. Ishant's natural inswing release makes it easy for him. Both of them nicked behind. Ishant has now taken Cook 11 times; only Morne Morkel has done so more often. Both are similar bowlers, who relish bowling round the wicket to left-hand batsmen.
An interesting mini duel ensued between Root and Bumrah. The problem for the batsman was the same as in the first innings. Bumrah bowled big inswingers, but they all ended up on the stumps, making Root play everything. All this while he had to watch for the ones that hold their line outside off. Root kept him out, but never came close to being at ease. Virat Kohli kept Bumrah on for an eighth over. And Root attempted to punch the widest delivery of the spell. It was also one of the wider releases in relation to the crease, making him play the angle. Bumrah to Root: 23 balls, two runs, one catch to second slip - one of the seven KL Rahul held, now one behind the world record with one wicket left standing. The wicket prompted Rahul to try a Dele Alli celebration.
Pope has reminded people of Ian Bell with his driving and stroke-play, but Bell will not be proud of the big cover drive he attempted to a wide Mohammed Shami outswinger. Buttler and Stokes showed more application. In fact Stokes went through 28 Hardik Pandya balls for just two runs. As the day progressed, though, the truth reinforced itself: if you bat long enough, the ball stops moving, the bowlers get tired, and if someone is not a 100% fit, you can take advantage of that bowler.
All of those things happened. The sun came out. The ball stopped doing things. R Ashwin, struggling with a hip issue, couldn't impart the spin he would have liked, and Buttler capitalised with some glorious shots. In three of the four innings in this match, 387 runs have come for the loss of one wicket between overs 30 and 70. In the one other innings, England didn't give themselves an opportunity to use that quiet period, instead trying all kinds of shots against Pandya when the ball was swinging.
With the second new ball, though, questions re-emerged for the batsmen. Buttler left Bumrah alone in the first over with the new ball only to see it sail over the stumps with movement back in. In the next over, he made a similar decision a touch too early, the ball was fuller this time and trapped him lbw. Jonny Bairstow walked out with a broken finger and got an unplayable delivery first up. He did almost everything right - covering the angle, covering the swing in the air - but after pitching this Bumrah delivery held its line to beat the outside edge and hit the top of off.
Chris Woakes survived the hat-trick ball, but he fell to his second bouncer of the match, this time a brutish lifter that followed him as he looked to sway out of the way. Bumrah nearly had five when Adil Rashid edged him behind, but it turned out to be a no-ball, and Rashid swung his way to a merry, unbeaten 30 by stumps. Amid sledging from Kohli, Stuart Broad also enjoyed some luck and scored 20. The umpires utilised the extra half hour available in the provisions of the game, but India couldn't remove either Rashid or James Anderson.