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The tourists, who lead the series 2-1 and need only draw in Nagpur to win it, ended the fourth day 165 runs ahead on 161-3, BBC reports.
After India declared in their first innings at 326-9, England stuttered to 94-3 in their second innings, losing openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton and star batsman Kevin Pietersen.
But Jonathan Trott (66 not out) and Ian Bell (24 no) steadied the ship for England with a watchful partnership of 67 runs.
The pair will be key if England'are to bat themselves into a safe position on the fifth day, against an Indian side desperate to level the series.
Joe Root and Matt Prior, who shared a 103-run partnership in the first innings, are still to bat, so England should be confident of staying at the crease long enough to secure the result they need to match the achievements of their predecessors in 1984-85.
However, they will also be aware of the dangers a batting collapse could bring and the threat of an Indian run chase on a pitch that still offers very little to the bowlers.