India, albeit in helpful, overcast conditions, took six wickets for 55 runs in 24 overs after lunch as they ripped through England’s top order.
Stuart Broad (six not out) and Graeme Swann (nought not out) were unbeaten on their Nottinghamshire home ground.
England, 69 for two at lunch, lost four wickets for 15 runs in a dramatic slump at the start of the second session, with Praveen Kumar striking twice in four balls.
Five balls after lunch, Kevin Pietersen, on 29, was squared up by fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, in for the injured Zaheer Khan, and third slip Suresh Raina held the edge to leave England 73 for three.
Kumar had rocked England with his command of swing while taking a Test-best five for 106 in the hosts’ 196-run series-opening victory at Lord’s.
The medium-pacer had England captain Andrew Strauss, who’d ‘got in’, out for 32, when the left-hander’s full-blooded drive flew to Raina, who held an excellent catch.
And that same over saw 85 for four become 85 for five when a full-length outswinger to left-hander Eoin Morgan pitched in line and had the former Ireland international lbw for nought.
Matt Prior had frustrated India with an unbeaten century after England had collapsed to 62 for five in their second innings at Lord’s.
But on Friday he managed just one before, playing at a ball from Sreesanth that left him, the wicketkeeper nicked straight to Rahul Dravid at first slip.
England, in the face of some high-class swing and seam bowling, had lost three wickets for three runs in 23 balls to be 88 for six.
Tim Bresnan, replacing injured fast bowler Chris Tremlett, was undone on 11 by a ball from Ishant Sharma that nipped away.
Ian Bell, the last of England’s frontline batsmen, was dropped on 22 by Dravid but he got himself out for 31 when he flat-footedly cut at Sharma and was caught behind by India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
England came into this match knowing they would replace India at the top of the ICC’s Test rankings if they won this four-match series 2-0 or better.
But during the last decade India have fought back to either win or square series after losing the first Test.
And although they were without left-arm quick Zaheer due to the hamstring injury that had cut short his participation at Lord’s, Dhoni fielded first.
Sharma made the breakthrough when he had Alastair Cook lbw for two.
Sreesanth struck with his fourth ball when Jonathan Trott, on four, drove at an outswinger and edged to Venkatsai Laxman at second slip.
Pietersen, who made a man-of-the-match winning 202 not out at Lord’s, survived a huge lbw shout from Kumar on 17, after walking across his stumps.
Kumar, risking disciplinary action, angrily questioned South African umpire Marais Erasmus’s decision — there are no lbw reviews this series because of Indian objections to ball-tracking technology — at the end of the over before being pulled away by team-mate Harbhajan Singh.