Spinner Graeme Swann's four wickets offered England little respite from India's blitz amid daunting bowling conditions on day one of the first Test at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
The tourists went without breakthrough in the first session, instead copping an unbeaten century stand between Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Swann, however, ended the duo's dominance - and got rid of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli - as India reached 323 for four at the close of play.
Sehwag and Gambhir survived a chance each during the opening throes of the middle session, with wicketkeeper Matt Prior dropping a catch down the leg-side and missing a straightforward stumping in consecutive overs.
Prior's initial error didn't prove too costly, though, with Gambhir bowled for 45 after missing a straight delivery that kept low. Sehwag graduated to a fine century - his first in Test match cricket in over two years. Later he too perished to Swann, sweeping but missing the sharp turn to be castled for 117.
Tendulkar failed to celebrate the 23rd anniversary, to the day, of his arrival in Test cricket, instead holing out to Samit Patel at deep midwicket in the wake of an uncharacteristic display of impatience.
Cheteshwar Pujara, meanwhile, warranted his status as the recently retired Rahul Dravid's long-term successor en route to a fine 98 not out, 13 dazzling boundaries included. His stay would have been cut entirely short, though, had a leading edge gone to hand when the promising right-hander was only on eight.
Swann's three wickets saw him pass the legendary Jim Laker's tally of 193 Test wickets to become England's most prolific off-spinner - and he added to the milestone with a fourth when Kohli's luck ran out.
Taking 30 deliveries to get off the mark and grassed in the slips by Jonathan Trott on four, the right-handed Kohli too was undone by some spitting bite off the deck, duly bowled through the gate for 19.
His departure left Pujara and Yuvraj Singh to an unbeaten 40-run partnership, with the latter's return to Test cricket after his battle with cancer marked by a promising 24 not out.
Earlier Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni proved triumphant at the toss, promptly opting to bat first on a dry Motera pitch that later proved low, slow and void of swing and seam, with Swann entering the attack as early as the 14th over.
The hosts recalled batsman ingh to their XI, while Pragyan Ojha was selected ahead of fellow spinner Harbhajan Singh. The tourists handed a debut to opener Nick Compton and replaced the injured Steven Finn with fellow right-arm seamer Bresnan.
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Pragyan Ojha.
England: Alastair Cook, Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson.