Alastair Cook (43), Paul Collingwood (28) and Ian Bell (31) were the only batsmen to resist the bowlers for long after India captain Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to field.
Play began four hours late due to the torrential rain in the recent past resulting in waterlogged outfield.
Andrew Strauss (4), captain Michael Vaughan (9) and Kevin Pietersen (13) were all back in the pavilion before the total had reached 50.
Left-armer Zaheer Khan accounted for Strauss and Vaughan on a pitch offering plenty of movement for seamers.
Khan dismissed Strauss when the left-hander pushed at a full-pitched delivery and guided it straight to Sachin Tendulkar at first slip.
Vaughan followed to the same combination when Khan produced a perfect delivery on off-stump from around the wicket and Tendulkar scooped up a low chance.
Pietersen, taking a large stride forward to counter the late swing, struck three fours but was lbw to RP Singh, another left-armer.
Cook and Collingwood digged out a 54-run partnership from 106 balls before the latter was bowled playing a half-hearted drive at Shanthakumaran Sreesanth with the total on 101.
Sourav Ganguly, who had been in doubt for the match because of a stiff back, then dismissed Cook lbw even though the left-hander had moved well down the pitch.
Leg-spinner Anil Kumble dismissed Matt Prior, smartly caught at slip by Dravid for 11, and Bell was lbw to Khan.
The tourists should have taken a further wicket but Tendulkar dropped Chris Tremlett on four off Khan.
The first Test at Lord's ended in a draw on Monday with England one wicket away from victory.
Brief Scores (at close, D-1):
England 169 for 7 (Cook 43, Bell 21, Collingwood 38; Zaheer 3 for 50, Sreesanth 1 for 16, Kumble 1 for 16, Ganguly 1 for 11) Vs India.