After conceding a mammoth 207-run lead, India's famed batsmen put up a pathetic display but R Ashwin (83 batting) and the tailenders delayed the inevitable as the hosts reached 239 for nine at close on the penultimate day.
Ashwin, who flopped as a bowler, provided some resistance as the last two wickets added 80 runs after being at a precarious 159 for eight at one stage, forcing the game to stretch into the fifth day with India having a slender lead of 32.
With one full day left, England were on course for a huge win and take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
India got off to a good start with Virender Sehwag (49) and Gautam Gambhir (40) putting on 86 runs but the innings completely came apart after the lunch break with wickets falling with embarrassing ease on an Eden Gardens track, which gave some assistance to the bowlers.
While the Indian bowlers looked completely ineffective, the English bowlers exploited the conditions far better and raise hopes of their first series win on Indian soil in 28 years.
After the humiliating 10-wicket defeat in Mumbai, the hosts once again seemed clueless in their own den with neither batting nor bowling clicking against an English side which was the one expected to struggle on the sub-continental dustbowls.
Steve Finn (3/37), James Anderson (2/38) and Graeme Swann were (2/70) were the wicket-takers for England.
Barring Ashwin, none of the Indian batsmen showed the stomach for a fight out as they perished to poor strokes.
Cheteshwar Pujara (8), Sachin Tendulkar (5), Yuvraj Singh (11), Virat Kohli (20) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (0) were the big guns who failed to fire on a track in which England posted 523 in the first innings.
Earlier in the morning, resuming at the overnight score of 509 for six, England were all out for 523 within the first half an hour's play.
Ashwin struck back to back boundaries to Swann to notch up his third half-century that also helped India avoid the humiliation of an innings loss as the Eden, which registered the highest attendance today.
Lacklustre with his off-spin, Ashwin delighted the crowd with a straight drive of Anderson, following it up with a pull of Steven Finn as India ensured England had to bat again.
Ashwin's shared a 38-run ninth wicket partnership with Ishant Sharma (10) to avoid an innings victory and later he stitched an undefeated 42 runs with Pragyan Ojha (3 batting).
Gambhir was again involved in a run out mix-up, for the second time in the match, with Cheteshwar Pujara (8) becoming the victim this time.
The English turnaround came in the post-lunch session as India lost six wickets for 36 runs as their fight to save the match went up in smoke.
Earlier, the first session belonged to India who dominated the proceedings -- both with the ball and bat – for the first time in the match.
First, India scalped four wickets in 4.3 overs to restrict England's first innings lead to 207 as they managed to add 14 runs to their overnight total.
Then, Indian openers Sehwag and Gambhir showed a lot of positivity when they came out to bat in the second innings as they raced to 86 for no loss at lunch but only to go down the drain after the break.
India committed a harakiri of sorts after they resumed after lunch.
India's promising start to their second innings, having conceded a 207-run lead, was undone when Sehwag got out in the first ball after lunch.
Swann got one to rip back through Sehwag's gate taking the top of the off stump to break the opening partnership for 86.
But without building on a partnership what followed was another dismissal as Gambhir once again helping England in another run-out.
Poor Pujara (8) became the victim this time when theleading Indian run-getter of the series fall short of the crease going in for a non-exiting run as Bell hit the stumps directly from short leg.
Finn should be credited for creating pressure around Gambhir who conceded two maiden overs to the pacer.
In the third over, after playing out five dot balls Gambhir desperately attempted for a single with a soft push to leg side to avoid a third straight maiden.
But it only brought an end of Pujara's knock, who has 402 runs in the series including one double and single century.
In the very first of the next over, the Indian opener, on 36, survived after umpire Rod Tucker gave him not out after his faint nick was brilliantly taken by Jonathan Trott in a low catch.
But irrespective of the dubious decision, Gambhir could not prolong his stint at the crease, edging one behind the stumps.
It was two wickets in as many overs as India were reduced to 107 for four with Sachin Tendulkar back in the dressing room after a promising paddle sweep of Swann.
The off-spinner took Tendulkar's outside edge to be caught at the slip by Trott as India started to stare at yet another big defeat.
Kohli, on four, got a second life after being dropped by Bell at deepish short leg as at the drinks break India were tottering for 119 for four, still requiring 88 runs to avoid an innings defeat with more than four sessions to go.
But England continued to spit venom as Anderson castled Yuvraj Singh with a delivery that went low, shattered the stumps by taking the bottom edge of the left-hander's bat.
Anderson came back to strike again this time to remove India skipper Dhoni for a duck.
Earlier, India started the day with some promise, when they bowled England out for 523.
Ojha, who was the most successful Indian bowler with 4/124, struck in his very second ball of the day when Swann (21) edged one at first slip to be dimissed without any addition to the total.
Off-colour Zaheer also got into the act, picking his first wicket of the match after bowling 30 overs when the left-arm pacer's in-cutter took Matt Prior's nick before being caught by Dhoni.
The second blow for England with addition of just one-run to the overnight total of 509 opened the gates for India as Ashwin took two wickets -- Anderson (9) and Paneswar (0) succession to wipe out the tail, but not before they conceded a huge lead.
Dhoni is a poor captain for test. I think he should be sacked & also Indian present cricket coach.
How many times we had to lose before one of these senior jokers are removed.. In india the players are bigger than cricket and the God has failed miserably. Throw these gold diggers out.what face does our captain have after tailoring the pitch to his advantage? When will we learn to be fair? Shameless creatures. only in India we appreciate failures, expect governmental aid and want to have a good life without working for it.vns
Sack Dhoni,Sehwag,Yuvraj from test cricket Replace them with Gambhir captain,Patel as wk,Rahane , and Tiwari Tell Sachin this is his last series and replace him with Rayudu You will get a new look side with fresh talent eager and hungry to win Sandeep Patil,Roger Binny do you have the courage to take such a decision and tell the Board its this way or else
Indian test cricket is in real shambles. I think its time to dismantle the entire team and may be ask the Ranji winner to represent India- cant play any worse than this. Its time for some heads to start rolling starting with our 40yr old mumbaikar, Sehwag and replace Dhoni as it seems he seems to lack even the basic skills of test captaincy. Shame for a country of over a billion not to perform in the only sport it has gained some recognition in.
i think virendra sehwag vsry unluck the last two years,but is very agresive player today is very well playd.
Time and again the old war horses have brought disgrace to the country. Their batsmanship have always been questionable yet they continue to represent the country and enjoy their assured place in the team playing in the most irresponsible manner.The best way to ease these seniors out is for the crowds to shun going to the stadiums leaving the stands empty .Also punitive measures should be imposed on the team for every defeat.All advertisements ,contracts be withdrawn forthwith to stop their earnings that they do not deserve.
Indian team can not blame the foreign pitch. They are now loosing on their own pitch, any excuse? The team has to find some young and fearless openers not Gautam and Sehwag. Gautam is good at running out his partners. He has his own speed and players like Cheeteswar do not fit with him. Gambhir slows them down and not playing their own game they get out. For God sake lot of weeding needs to be done with this team.
Players Living on ivory towers r unable to bat or run in field. Let come new face or replace existing (scattered) team captain to hold bat strictly.
The BCCI must have the goal to make the BCCI team the best in the world. The selectors have to select persons who have the technique. we cannot have batsman who cannot play in England, Australia, South Africa, and also in India. Replace Yuvraj, Zaheer, Dhoni, and Sehwag and Sachin with other batsman with technique and who are currently in form. Then we can proudly call it the Indian Cricket team.
It is now amply clear that unless the cricket team is cleared of dead wood and the young players helped to regain their confidence by shunting out those who are there just for reputations, the team will not do well and the country will continue to bear the ignominy of disgraceful defeats.They have killed KOhli's confidence by relegating him to 4 down to accomodate Sachin who never has placed country above himself and is out to destroy Indian cricket. A 76 with all the bad shots and weak play has been upbraided as a great achievement . Everybody knows he can always purchase such accolades. Sehwag is always running his own show. Zaheer and Harbhajan are past their prime. And to top all, the wrong selections and orders to play game in a certain way has cast unbearable burden on Dhoni.Any Captain in shackles can not to give his best. See how the cricket bosses all over the world are casting their teams and are making innovations to improve the image of their teams. Why can't we