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England lost two big wickets to Pragyan Ojha just before tea to dampen their optimism on day two of the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium.
After Monty Panesar completed his five-wicket haul, and England finally shifted Cheteshwar Pujara (135) - thanks to Graeme Swann - openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton shared an encouraging stand of 66 in reply to 327 all out.
England's hopes of battling back here after their nine-wicket defeat in the first Test of four were rising, until Ojha saw off Compton and Jonathan Trott in successive overs to leave the tourists 77 for two.
Cook was less crease-bound than in his heroic but vain 176 in Ahmedabad - and after he had twice hit Ojha over the top, once for six over long-on, Compton too was emboldened to use his feet to good effect against India's three-strong specialist spin attack.
It was only when slow left-armer Ojha returned for his second spell that Compton was undone, caught at slip off a full ball which turned enough to take the edge of his forward-defence.
Then Trott went fatally back, as he has tended to on this tour, and was stone-dead lbw for his second duck in three Test innings in India.
Panesar and Swann had combined well this morning to take India's last four wickets for 61 runs. By the time Swann had Pujara stumped half an hour before lunch, he had batted for almost 18 hours without being dismissed in the series since first taking guard at the Sardar Patel Stadium last week.
The number three underpinned India's total, one which appeared highly unlikely when the hosts stumbled to 119 for five yesterday.
Pujara's seventh-wicket stand of 111 with Ravichandran Ashwin (68) was a source of particular frustration for England. Ashwin had hardly batted like a number eight since his arrival at the crease last night.
But he was deceived by Panesar (five for 129), who followed a series of stock balls with one that hurried on to hit the back pad just on off-stump and win an lbw as Ashwin picked the wrong one to cut.
By then, Anderson's appeal for lbw against Pujara had been turned down by Aleem Dar - on the basis, it turned out, of a barely perceptible inside edge on to pad.
The resulting single got Pujara under way, from his overnight 114, and took the partnership into three figures.
With Ashwin gone, Harbhajan Singh survived on one when an outside-edge off Panesar flew between wicketkeeper and first slip for four.
Harbhajan edged another boundary off Panesar just out of gully's reach, for good measure, and two balls later clubbed the slow left-armer over wide long-on for six.
Swann (four for 70) ended Harbhajan's fun, lbw walking across his stumps and again just hit in line with off, and then achieved what no one else had since this series started - getting Pujara up the wicket, then missing on the forward-defence as an arm ball slid past the outside edge for Prior to complete a routine stumping.
It was an underwhelming way for the new 'Wall' to fall at last, in an India innings which closed soon afterwards when Swann had Zaheer Khan caught at short-leg - off pad and shirt, on replay evidence, but to England's relief nonetheless.
There was reason for a more substantial feeling of well-being in the visitors' dressing-room for much of the afternoon, until Ojha intervened.