Left-hander Sam Curran justified his recall to the England side as he led the fightback on the opening day of the fourth Test after a disastrous start in Southampton.
Having elected to bat the home side were 57 for four and 86 for six as the ball moved around alarmingly before Curran and Moeen Ali shared a 79-run stand to stop the rot.
When Moeen eventually went for 40 in the 60th over top-edging a slog-sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin to square leg Curran continued the fight, reaching his second Test half-century in four innings.
He put on 63 with Stuart Broad (17) for the ninth wicket but was eventually last man out for 78 when trying to force the score along with last man James Anderson, but he had dragged England to 246.
India will have been disappointed not to press home their early advantage after their seamers found prodigious movement in the air to cause all kinds of problems for the batsmen.
England were fortunate to reach lunch at 57 for four as, having lost Keaton Jennings, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Alastair Cook, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant put down a difficult chance off Jos Buttler.
Jasprit Bumrah finished with three for 46, with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin all taking two apiece.