India vs England: Live cricket score
The home team had England in a real spot at 139 for five soon after tea but failed to seize the initiative as debutant Joe Root and the experienced Matt Prior batted for nearly 30 overs to add 60 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket stand.
The new-look Indian bowling attack had kept the high-flying England batsmen under tight leash and made them struggle for every run in the first two sessions before Prior batting on 34 and Root undefeated on 31 added valuable runs in the final hour.
Kevin Pietersen was the top-scorer for England with an innings of 73 while debutant Ravindra Jadeja got two wickets for 34 runs having bowled 25 overs.
England captain Alastair Cook won the toss for the first time and visitors were rocked back by twin strikes within the first hour by Ishant Sharma but recovered briefly to get past the 100-run mark.
However, they got bogged down by the loss of three more wickets, two of which were claimed by 24-year-old debutant Jadeja and the other by comeback man Piyush Chawla, before staging their second recovery of the day through Root and Prior.
The sixth wicket pair, whose unfinished partnership has lasted five minutes under two hours, came together when Kevin Pietersen was dismissed by Jadeja trying to play towards mid-wicket as Pragyan Ojha took a low catch diving forward.
Before Tea break, Jadeja and Piyush Chawla picked up a wicket each after speedster Ishant Sharma struck twice in the morning to help India keep England under check at tea on the first day of the fourth and final cricket Test.
Left-arm spinner Jadeja and leg-spinner Chawla sent back Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell in the post-lunch period after Sharma had given India a rousing start in the morning session by dismissing openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton cheaply.
Kevin Pietersen was unconquered on 68 after a stay of 193 minutes in which he hit nine fours along with debutant Joe Root (10) as England reached 133 for four at tea after the visitors won the toss and opted to bat.
The tourists, 61 for two at lunch, added 72 runs in 32 overs while losing Trott and Bell, in the second session.
For India, lone pacer Sharma was the most impressive of the lot and troubled the English batsmen with his aggressive bowling on a slow and low track. His tea figures were two for 25 in 14 overs.
Jadeja had figures one for 22 at tea while Chawla had one for 25.
First choice slow bowlers Pragyan Ojha, India's most successful bowler so far in the series, and Ravichandran Ashwin were wicket-less at the break.
Pietersen and Trott rallied England after the visitors' poor start when they were reduced to 16 for two by Sharma's twin strike in his first spell.
Earlier, Trott consolidated England's innings along with Kevin Pietersen, who completeted his half-century post lunch break.
England were 119/ at this moment with Pietersen (64) and Joe Root (0) unbeaten at the crease.
Pacer Ishant Sharma struck twice in the first hour of play to send back England captain Alastair Cook and Nick Compton cheaply as India took early control of the do-or-die fourth and final cricket Test here in Nagpur.
Sharma sent back Compton for 3 to leave England 3 for one and then trapped the in-form Cook leg before for 1 to leave the visitors gasping at 16 for 2 in the 11th over.
Jonathan Trott and and Kevin Pietersen, both on 28 and with four fours each, played aggressively to steady the rocking boat and take the visitors to lunch at 61 on a pitch displaying some uneven bounce.
Sharma, who had picked up one wicket in the second Test at Kolkata lost by India to trail by 1-2, bowled with good rhythm to rattle the visiting team after Cook won the toss for the first time in the series and promptly opted to bat first on the dry VCA Stadium track sporting some cracks.
India, who chose to go in with only one fast bowler in Sharma to accommodate the third regular spinner leggie Piyush Chawla, made England struggle for runs with the gangling Delhi pacer, at last showing some aggression in the rubber.
Sharma, who was unwell before the first Test at Ahmedabad and was not picked for the second Test in Mumbai as India went in with three frontline spinners, was not averse to digging the ball in short.
And it was a short, wide ball that accounted for Compton who nervously prodded at it and edged to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
It was only the third time that India had managed to break the opening stand between Compton and Cook below 30 and the second successive time in single figures after the second innings in Kolkata.
Trott, lucky not to be given out leg before off Sharma by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, started off with a flowing straight drive off Pragyan Ojha who started the bowling attack with Sharma.
England skipper Alastair Cook won the toss for the first time in this series and decided to bat against India in the fourt Test here at Nagpur on Thursday. For England, Joe Root has got his Test cap. He replaced Samit Patel. Tim Bresnan is back in the side for Steven Finn.
India have also made couple of changes in the side. Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla are in the side for Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan. It means India re playing with four spinner--Pragyan Ojha, R Aswhin, Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja.
Eng: Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Nick Compton, Monty Panesar, KP Pietersen, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.
Ind: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha