India's Rohit Sharma neared a century but England hit back with crucial blows including Virat Kohli for a duck on day one of the second Test on Saturday.
India reached 106 for three at lunch with Sharma on 80 and Ajinkya Rahane on five after India, who trail the four-Test series 1-0, elected to bat in Chennai.
Moeen Ali bowled Kohli through the gate as the Indian captain stood shocked on the pitch for a few moments before walking off amid stunned silence from fans allowed into the ground for the first time since the pandemic.
Olly Stone had Shubman Gill leg before for a duck in only the second over, but Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara steadied the ship with an 85-run second-wicket stand.
But then Jack Leach took Pujara for 21 and Ali's prized scalp of Kohli made India slip to 86-3.
The Indian players were greeted by whistles and chants of "Rohit, Rohit" as Indian cricket welcomed back a limited number of its raucous fanbase for the match.
Sharma did not disappoint the home fans as he took on the England bowlers, hitting 13 fours and a six off Ben Stokes.
He swept left-arm spinner Leach for two boundaries in one over to raise his 12th Test half-century in 47 balls.
England made four changes from their opening win with Stuart Broad, Ben Foakes, Ali and Stone making it to the XI.
India handed left-arm spinner Axar Patel his Test debut and brought in paceman Mohammed Siraj and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the team.