Alastair Cook was unbeaten on 46 in his final test innings as England reached 114-2 at stumps on day three for a 154-run lead over India in the fifth test.
Cook - who will retire from Test cricket at the end of his 161st match - came through a shaky start to maintain his hopes of a farewell century at the Oval. He scored 71 in England's first innings.
England had earlier secured a 40-run first-innings lead after dismissing India for 292. Ravindra Jadeja prevented a far bigger lead with 86 not out after India resumed on 174-6.
After the dismissals of Keaton Jennings (10) and Moeen Ali (20) left England at 62-2, England captain Joe Root played fluidly to reach the close on 29 not out alongside the man he succeeded as skipper.
England holds an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.