The tourists have already lost the series after going 3-1 down in Mohali, but were well set to salvage some pride having won the toss and made full use of helpful conditions.
Tim Bresnan took two wickets in as many balls to get England going, with Steven Finn and James Tredwell also striking.
Bresnan's presence in the side was something of a surprise after he was left out of the squad for New Zealand in a bid to have a nagging elbow injury put right. But he was quick to remind the selectors of his ability before his period of absence.
He started with five testing deliveries to Rohit Sharma, who spoiled a potential maiden when he sent the final ball to the cover boundary. But Bresnan got his man in his second over, finding a little swing and picking up the outside edge. Tredwell held a smart catch at second slip.
The same pair were involved as the dangerous Virat Kohli fell for a golden duck, Bresnan going wider this time and drawing a loose stroke from the number three. Tredwell was less secure second time around, juggling the catch four times before clinging on.
England added a third slip for the hat-trick ball but Yuvraj Singh survived. It was not a long stay, though, with the 31-year-old squared up by Finn after three balls to hand Eoin Morgan a simple catch at point.
That left India rocking at 24 for three, with Gautam Gambhir doing the bulk of the scoring in boundaries.
Chris Woakes, recalled in place of Jade Dernbach, came on in the eighth over but leaked nine runs as Gambhir and Suresh Raina both found the ropes. Woakes almost made Gambhir the fourth wicket of the day when he had 24, but Tredwell could not hold a one-handed catch despite a fine effort.
The Warwickshire all-rounder saw his third over disappear for 14, all to Raina, before Tredwell had Gambhir superbly caught by Ian Bell for 24.