Strauss was 43 not out, having been missed on his interval score, and England captain Michael Vaughan, who'd won the toss, 23 not out.
Left-hander Strauss, on his Middlesex home ground, was reprieved shortly before lunch when a square drive off Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was dropped by Dinesh Karthik at point.
Karthik, a wicket-keeper by trade but playing as a specialist batsman, didn't appear to sight the ball at all and England, on 110 for one in the 27th over had enjoyed a large slice of luck.
England openers Strauss and fellow left-hander Alastair Cook made a brisk start with their fifty partnership up in 52 balls.
India's seamers generally struggled with their line although Strauss did uncovincingly edge through the slips on a couple of occasions early on.
But Cook was quickly into his stride, clipping his first ball, from Sreesanth, off his legs for four.
And when left-arm quick Zaheer Khan, who played for English county Worcestershire last year, dropped short the 22-year-old Cook hooked him for four.
Strauss then found some form with several well-struck onside shots when the seamers overpitched.
It was left to former captain Sourav Ganguly, the fourth bowler used, to break the stand.
Better known as a batsman, his good length medium-pace was well-suited to take advantage of the swing on offer and with his fourth ball he had Cook lbw for 36, made off 39 balls with six fours.
Veteran umpire Steve Bucknor took his time over the decision and, although Ganguly had pitched the ball in line, replays suggested it had moved away off the pitch just enough to miss off-stump.
Nevertheless, England were 76 for one in the 15th over.
Vaughan though drove Ganguly through extra-cover, one of the Yorkshire batsman's signature shots.
England gave a Test debut to 6ft 7in Hampshire quick Chris Tremlett, included after Matthew Hoggard was ruled out with a back problem.
The hosts, who earlier this season beat the West Indies 3-0, were already without injured fast bowlers Stephen Harmison (hernia) and Andrew Flintoff (ankle), both of whom were set to miss the whole of this three-match series.
Brief Score (at lunch, D-1):
England 115 for 1 (Strauss 43 n o, Cook 36, Vaughan 23 n o; Gaunguly 1 for 17) Vs India.