Keaton Jennings scored a sublime hundred on his Test debut as England recovered from another top order collapse to end Day One on 288-5 in Mumbai.
The Durham star only linked up with the squad on Monday and seized his opportunity to make history as the 19th player to reach three figures on his Test bow for England, the eighth as an opener.
His 112 set England on course for a big first innings total but an inspired spell from Ravichandran Ashwin saw him dismiss the left-hander and Moeen Ali (50) in the space of two balls, then Jonny Bairstow, as the tourists slumped from 230-2 to 249-5.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler survived a treacherous last hour on a gripping pitch to see England back in the hutch just shy of 300 and increasingly grateful to have won the toss.
After calling correctly and opting to bat, captain Alastair Cook was accompanied out to the middle by the 24-year-old, who was dropped before he could get off the mark with back-to-back boundaries on either side of the wicket, Karun Nair putting down a tough chance at gully from an Umesh Yadav bumper.
Jennings then survived a review as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, deputising for the injured Mohammed Shami, angled one into the pads but the impact was umpire’s call. Ashwin was introduced in just the eighth over, as Kohli tested the resolve of Mumbai’s tangerine-tinged pitch.
Cook brought up a mini-milestone with a classy on drive off Kumar, as he passed 2,000 Test runs against India, and Jennings drove beautifully for four in the final over before drinks to complete the first hour.
Deploying the paddle sweep effectively against the spinners and driving anything overpitched from the seamers, Jennings duly went to his half century and was congratulated by the last opener to reach that mark on debut for England - Cook.
The skipper had used his feet well to Jayant Yadav, powerfully driving through mid on for four, but fell in Ravindra Jadeja’s first over, as he danced down the wicket again only to miss a turning ball, Parthiv Patel doing the rest.
But with Jennings continuing to play aggressively, launching Jayant Yadav over the top for four, England reached 117-1 at lunch with the left-hander 65 not out.
Joe Root fell for 21 shortly after the restart, edging Ashwin to Virat Kohli who took a sharp catch at slip but Jennings moved swiftly through the seventies, reverse sweeping Jayant for four then driving to the fence the next ball.
Drinks were taken early due to a stoppage after umpire Paul Reiffel was hit on the head by a throw from the deep by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He was led from the field by England’s physio, and replaced by Marais Erasmus.
Once the action resumed, Moeen Ali found it hard going against the spinners, playing and missing several times. But Jennings picked up where he left off, constantly rotating the strike and punishing the bad ball.
Excited appeals for a catch in close fell on deaf ears and one turned sharply past his edge as he waded into the nineties, but underlining the confidence in his game, the 24-year-old brought up his maiden Test century with an emphatic reverse sweep.
It made him the first man to score a hundred on his England debut since Jonathan Trott in the 2009 Ashes, and only the third since 1969, behind Matt Prior and Cook.
Moeen opened his shoulders to slap Jadeja for six, then slog sweep Jayant Yadav for another boundary to register his half century from 102 deliveries. But he departed two balls later, top edging a sweep off Ashwin, Karun Nair doing the rest.
Two balls later, Jennings perished, Ashwin getting one to bounce and take the edge of the blade, Cheteshwar Pujara diving forward at gully to take an excellent catch. All of a sudden 230-2 had become 230-4.
With the pitch starting to permit more and more turn, Ben Stokes survived two devilish deliveries from Ashwin, one shaving both his outside edge and the off stump. But Jonny Bairstow succumbed, top edging a sweep off Ashwin to Umesh Yadav at long leg, England 249-5 at that stage.
Stokes and Jos Buttler rode their luck at times as the pitch began to spit but they successfully saw England through to the close.