India seized control of the second Test against England on Sunday, posting 329 in their first innings before reducing the tourists to 39-4 at lunch on the second day at Chennai's MA Chidambaram Stadium.
England lost both their openers as well as in-form captain Joe Root, whose spin proficiency would have been crucial on a pitch offering considerable turn.
Dan Lawrence fell for nine in the final delivery before lunch, while Ben Stokes was batting on eight with England still 290 behind.
India, 1-0 down after losing the opener of the four-Test series, has earlier added 29 runs to their overnight score of 300-6 before being all out.
England's Moeen Ali (4-128) dismissed debutant Axar Patel and Ishant Sharma in the same over, and Olly Stone (3-47) struck twice in three balls to remove Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj.
Rishabh Pant remained stranded on 58 not out, having smacked three sixes in his 77-ball blitz.
On a pitch where batting is expected to get tougher as the game progresses, England's reply got off to a woeful start.
Ishant trapped Rory Burns lbw for a duck with his third delivery and Dom Sibley fell for 16 after India successfully reviewed a not-out decision.
Patel dealt the biggest blow by dismissing Root for his maiden test wicket.
The England captain, who made six, attempted a slog-sweep but ended up offering a top-edge to Ashwin at short fine-leg.
Ashwin ended Lawrence's uncomfortable 52-ball stay by getting him caught at short leg to put more pressure on the tourists.