New Zealand hit back strongly with the ball after India got off to a promising start on the opening day of their 500th Test in Kanpur on Thursday.
India, replaced by Pakistan at the top of the rankings last month, collapsed from 154-1 in the afternoon session to 291-9 at stumps after several batsmen got starts but failed to go on.
Murali Vijay (65) and Cheteshwar Pujara (62) were the only batsmen to make half-centuries after Virat Kohli won the toss on a day in which all three New Zealand spinners and the seamers made an impact.
Mitchell Santner (3-77) led the way, while Trent Boult (3-52) claimed three wickets in a magnificent spell with the second new ball in the evening session on what proved to be a fruitful day for the tourists after a tough start.
Lokesh Rahul (32) stated his intent by finding the boundary twice in the first over of the day from Boult and continued to take an aggressive approach as India got off to a flyer.
Santner was launched for six by Rahul in his second over, but the spinner had the last laugh when he zipped through a quicker delivery and wicketkeeper BJ Watling took a sharp catch to end an opening stand of 42.
A patient Vijay and the elegant Pujara, who used his feet expertly, rotated the strike well and picked out the bad balls in a century stand to put India in a promising position.
The pair brought up their half-centuries in quick succession during the afternoon session, but Santner was rewarded for his persistence when Pujara gifted him a simple catch off his own bowling.
Kohli (9) fell into Neil Wagner's (1-42) trap when the skipper top-edged a bouncer and was caught at deep square-leg before Vijay feathered Ieg-spinner Ish Sodhi (1-50) behind.
India had lost four wickets for only 55 runs when Mark Craig (1-59) tossed up a flighted delivery which Ajinkya Rahane (18) could only fend to short-leg.
Rohit Sharma (35), whose Test place has been called into question, took 14 off an over from Sodhi - including a six wide of midwicket - but gave his wicket away by chipping Santner to Sodhi to end a stand of 52 with Ravichandran Ashwin.
There were some classy drives from a composed Ashwin (40) but a fired up Boult ended his knock after cleaning up Wriddhiman Saha and the left-armer also bowled Mohammed Shami without scoring in a brilliant spell with the new ball late in the day.