England negated Ravichandran Ashwin's defiance and survived a slew of early wickets to take a two-one series lead an before lunch on day five of the third Test at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.

Resuming on 239 for nine, with all-rounder Ashwin on 83 not out overnight, India's ambition pointed to a marginally defendable second-innings score. Their follow through, however, was stopped dead in its tracks a mere 10 deliveries into the day.

While Ashwin was quick to race to an unbeaten 91 thanks to a couple of quickfire fours off fast bowler Steven Finn, number 11 Pragyan Ojha was unable to stave off the advances of seamer James Anderson - and was bowled for three.

Stranded a mere nine runs of what could have proved a telling second career century, Ashwin soon resumed his primary role, with his dangerous off-spin soon getting the better of the visiting top-order.

Requiring just 41 runs for victory, England slipped to eight for three, leaving an attacking cameo from the right-handed Ian Bell to belatedly calm his side's collective nerves - and promptly seal the deal.

The in-form Alastair Cook was the first to fall, dancing down the track in a bid to strike Ashwin's flight down the ground. The loop and the width, though, beat the left-hander to send him packing for a mere single - a minor mistake in an otherwise impeccable string of statistics from the skipper this tour.

The right-handed Trott only bettered his captain's single by two runs, falling lbw to Ojha. The dismissal was as plumb as they come, largely overshadowing the right-hander's first-innings success.

The South African-born Kevin Pietersen perished a mere six deliveries later, prodding forward to some prodigious purchase off the pitch from Ashwin. The outside edge ensued, wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni welcoming a sharp catch to his gloves.

With three big runs back in the pavilion and less than 10 runs on the board, England had reason for momentary worry. Bell, true to character, quickly ensured reasonable calm. With the dogged Nick Compton along for the ride, new father Bell laced four boundaries across his unbeaten 28 from as many deliveries, resigning Ojha and Ashwin's hopes of pulling off a tremendous comeback to fruitlessness.

A fluid cover drive to the fence from Bell might have been a more fitting end to the contest, but instead a single tucked around the corner heralded the arrival of triumph for England.

For their dominance, the English cannot lose the four-match affair, and are firm favourites to clinch next week's series decider too. India, meanwhile, are left to regret their first back-to-back Test defeats at home since 1999-2000 - and contemplate their means of turnaround in Nagpur.