Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
India 329 (Pant 58*, Moeen 4-128) and 54 for 1 lead England 134 (Ashwin 5-43) by 249 runs
India took giant strides towards levelling the series in Chennai after running through England and then building steadily on a 195-run lead. Fifteen wickets fell in the day, R Ashwin claiming five of them in an innings for the 29th time in Tests, as England's hopes of hanging in the contest on a turning pitch were obliterated in two sessions of skittish batting.
England were in trouble from the outset of their reply, losing Rory Burns in the opening over and Joe Root, the batting talisman during three consecutive wins in Sri Lanka and India, before he had managed double - let alone triple - figures. They sneaked past the follow-on mark thanks to a nuggety, unbeaten 42 from Ben Foakes, but India were doubtless content to bat again on a commanding lead, and leave England to worry about facing their demons on days three and four.
Chepauk might be dry as a tinderbox but England needed more than a spark to turn the third innings into the sort of conflagration that might get them back into the game. Jack Leach chipped out Shubman Gill cheaply but once again Rohit Sharma marshalled the India batting effort, although England felt aggrieved when he was given not out on review after appearing to offer no shot against Moeen Ali - the impact was outside off but the ball would have hit middle stump.
Rohit also survived a tough stumping chance off Moeen - a rare mistake by Foakes after he had gone through the first innings without conceding a single extra - and successfully utilised the DRS himself when Leach won an lbw decision, with technology confirming an edge on his reverse-sweep.
India had already forged themselves a strong position on the back of Rohit's conditions-defying 161 on day one, and although they could only add 29 runs to their overnight 300 for 6, the bowlers were soon tucking into their work on a responsive surface.
Ishant Sharma trapped Burns lbw third ball for the opener's second consecutive duck and Ashwin struck twice either side the dismissal of Root to leave England in dire straits on 39 for 4 at lunch. Axar Patel, on debut, was the man to deny England's captain and batting bellwether a first-innings hundred for the first time this year, detonating a sharply turning delivery as Root looked to deploy his favoured sweep shot, a top edge safely pouched by Ashwin at short fine leg.
Ashwin, on his home ground, gave an exemplary display of how to harness helpful conditions, alternating his pace, lines of attack and method of delivery to keep England's batsman pinned down. Dom Sibley was his first victim, caught at short leg off the back of the bat attempting to sweep, while Dan Lawrence struck a tortured pose through much of his 52-balls innings, which ended with the last delivery before lunch and a catch to short leg. Lawrence's slump over his bat handle said much about the tourists' chances.
With Ben Stokes seemingly opting against the "take a few runs with me" approach in the hope of getting accustomed to the surface as the ball lost its hardness, England continued to creep along at around two an over - but the inevitable occurred when Ashwin struck again to remove Stokes for the ninth time in Tests. India had burned a review before lunch, when Ashwin hit Stokes on the back leg only for ball-tracking to show it going over, but he bypassed such considerations with a beautifully flighted delivery that defeated the batsman in the air and off the pitch to shudder off stump.
From 52 for 5, England briefly cobbled some resistance, as Ollie Pope and Foakes put together a 35-run stand - their highest of the match. But having grazed in the outfield for almost 40 overs of his first home Test, Mohammed Siraj produced a wicket-taking intervention with his first delivery, Rishabh Pant's leaping, one-handed take down the leg side accounting for Pope.
Moeen and Olly Stone fell in quick succession before tea, and it needed some doughty resistance from Foakes, playing his first Test in almost two years, to steer them past the follow-on target. Pant then produced another stunning catch - part of a blemish-free showing behind the stumps - to dislodge Leach and Stuart Broad dragged a sweep on to his stumps to complete Ashwin's five-wicket haul.
Pant had been the danger man, as far as England were concerned, at the start of the day, although they managed to sneak through largely unscathed after India resumed in pursuit of quick runs stretch their advantage. Two wickets fell in Moeen's first over, the second of the morning, and while Pant helped himself to four more boundaries on the way to an unbeaten 58, England wrapped up the innings via two in three balls for Stone. But as the events of the day unfolded, it was clear that India were already in control of their own destiny.
India vs England
England tour of India
ICC World Test Championship