Off-spinners Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana removed two batters each in the final session as India reduced England to 269 for six on the opening day of the one-off Test in Bristol on Wednesday.
After losing Lauren Winfield-Hill (35) in the first session, the host lost Tammy Beaumont (66) in the second session but stayed in control.
However, the visitor sent back Natalie Sciver (42), Amy Jones (1), England skipper Heather Knight (95) and Georgia Elwiss (5) in the post-tea session to make a strong comeback.
Debutant Sneh dismissed Beaumont and also trapped Jones in front. The off-spinner also got rid of Elwiss, who was held by Deepti.
Deepti broke the third-wicket stand of 90 between Knight and Sciver by having the latter leg-before. She also trapped Knight in front, five short of a century. Though the England captain went for a review, it proved unsuccessful. Knight’s 95 came off 175 deliveries and contained nine fours.
Sophia Dunkley (12) and Katherine Brunt (7) will resume the England innings on Thursday.
In the second session, though India picked up the crucial wicket of Beaumont, England consolidated its position by reaching 162 for two at tea.
India toiled hard for the most part of the post-lunch period before Sneh picked up her maiden Test wicket. She got rid of the in-form of Beaumont, who was brilliantly caught by Shafali Verma at short leg.
Beaumont faced 144 balls, and her second Test half-century was embellished with six fours.
Knight and Sciver then batted cautiously, as England made 76 runs off 28 overs in the second session.
In the opening period, the host, after choosing to bat, reached 86 for one. The Indian pace duo of veteran Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey made a promising start, doing just enough to trouble the English batters on more than one occasion.
In the seventh over, Jhulan induced an edge from Winfield-Hill as she went for an extravagant drive, but Smriti Mandhana dropped the chance in the slip cordon despite getting both hands to the ball.
In the next over, Winfield-Hill got lucky again. Debutant Pooja Vastrakar induced a thick edge, but the ball flew between second slip and gully to the boundary.
Pooja eventually had the last laugh as she had Winfield-Hill brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia, giving India the breakthrough.
Five players made their Test debut for India: Shafali, Deepti, Pooja, Sneh and Taniya. For England. Sophia was the lone player to earn a Test cap.