A heavy downpour prompted the teams to go for an early tea and no play was possible after that as a part of the Old Trafford ground was left saturated with the summer deluge.
An unbeaten 68-run stand between Joe Root and Jos Buttler took England to 237 for six with a 85-run lead at tea against India but rain halted their progress shortly after lunch.
Root (48 batting) and Buttler (batting 22) had put brakes on India’s fightback on day two and when things were again looking up for the hosts, the rain came pouring down cutting short the second session.
Just nine overs were bowled and 36 runs added before rain halted England’s progress.
Earlier, pacers Varun Aaron and Bhuvneshwar Kumar led India’s fightback as England were reduced to 201 for six at lunch.
England, who had skittled out India for 152 on the first day, lost three of their top order batsmen in the morning session with Bhuvneshwar accounting for two of them.
Starting the day at 113 for three, Ian (58) and Chris Jordan (13) set-about consolidating England’s strong position in the match.
Indian bowlers left a lot to be desired in the first half-hour of play.
But just as the hosts were beginning to look comfortable, Bhuvneshwar struck to remove Jordan.
An excellent catch by Aaron at mid-wicket as Bhuneshwar’s bouncer took Jordan by surprise.
Just an over later, Bhuvneshwar was at it again, sending the dangerous Bell back to the pavillion.
The Indian pacer’s wonderful outswinger grazed the bat’s outside edge and staright into the waiting gloves of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The two wickets juxtaposed with Aaron’s introduction into the attack saw India claw their way back into the match.
Aaron managed to exploit the favourable overcast conditions to his advantage and troubled the English batsmen with his pace, bounce and movement.
Some of his short-pitched deliveries had the opposition scurrying for cover.
Aaron finally got his due with an unplayable inswinger from around the wicket that saw the ball smash into Moeen Ali’s stumps.
The left-hander was hurried into his shot, and was trying to play that with the swing towards mid-wicket with a closed bat-face but the ball split the gap between bat and pad to crash into the stumps.