India had its nose ahead after safely negotiating the West Indies bowlers on a tricky Ferozshah Kotla pitch on Tuesday.
At stumps, on Day 3 of the first Test, they were 152 for 2, 124 runs from their victory target of 276.
Tamil Nadu off-spinner Ravichandran Aswhin vindicated his selection into the Test side with a five-for on debut, before Virender Sehwag (55 off 55 balls) provided the impetus to India's second innings with a typically aggressive knock.
At the end of the day, a resolute Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar were unbeaten on 30 and 33 respectively. The duo's unbroken third-wicket partnership has yielded 57 runs.
Seeking a record 100th international ton, Tendulkar completed 15,000 runs in Tests in the process when he pushed a Devendra Bishoo delivery towards extra cover. He and Dravid will be looking to ensure Ashwin's superlative effort of six for 47 does not go in vain when India resume the innings on Wednesday.
After Aswhin helped the hosts bowl out the visitors for a paltry 180 in their second innings, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (22 off 32) started the chase in right earnest, putting on 51 runs in less than 10 overs.
During his 80-minute stay at the crease, Sehwag delighted a turnout of 14,422 as well as he can with his pyrotechnics.
After Gambhir flicked Fidel Edwards to the deep square-leg boundary to start India's run chase, Sehwag launched into a booming straight drive off the same bowler. He followed that by whipping Edwards to the deep square-leg area.
Morning session (88 runs, 28 overs, five wickets):
Debutants Ashwin and Umesh Yadav led a strong Indian fightback by claiming two wickets apiece as the West Indies went to lunch at a precarious 109 for seven in their second innings.
Resuming at the overnight score of 21 for two, and 116 runs ahead, the West Indies lost five wickets for the addition of 88 runs, thus wasting the advantage they had by earning a vital 95-run first-innings lead after bowling out India for 209 in their first essay on Monday.
First-innings centurion Shivnarine Chanderpaul was batting on 39 ande skipper Darren Sammy was giving him company on eight as the West Indies struggled to stretch their overall lead to 204 runs.
Besides off-spinner Aswhin and pacer Yadav's double blow, pace spearhead Ishant Sharma accounted for one wicket.
Ashwin, who had dismissed Kieran Powell on Monday evening, had figures of three for 21 in 14 overs in West Indies' second innings.
Kirk Edwards started the day on a positive note for the Caribbean side when he leaned forward to caress Pragyan Ojha through the extra-cover for a boundary.
But Sharma soon accounted for the wicket of night-watchman Fidel Edwrads, who sneaked one to India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps in the day's third over.
The lanky Delhi pacer could have had another in the same, over but a one-handed Aswhin, despite a valiant attempt, could not hold on to Darren Bravo's uppish drive at cover.
The drop, however, did not prove to be too costly for India as Ashwin made amends by sending Bravo back LBW with a tossed-up ball that did not turn much and hit the left-hander on the pads.
If that was not enough for the visitors, it took Ashwin just four balls to send back Marlon Samuels, who was bemused by the bowler's trademark carrom ball delivery, which disturbed his off-stump.
Yadav, meanwhile, after a none-too-impressive outing in the first innings, tried to put in a lot more effort in the morning. And it bore fruit when he dislodged Edwards's off-stump after the batsman decided to shoulder arms. The dismissal registered his maiden Test wicket.
Edwards scored 33 off 80 deliveries, and found the fence four times.
The Vidarbha pacer then accounted for his second victim when induced a thick edge off wicketkeeper-batsman Carlton Baugh's bat that went straight to Dhoni's gloves.
Post-lunch session (109 runs, 23.3 overs, three wickets):
West Indies innings (71 runs, 15.3 overs, three wickets):
Ravichandran Ashwin made his debut memorable with a five-wicket haul (six for 47) as India bundled out the West Indies for 180 in their second innings to set themselves a target of 276.
Inspired by Pragyan Ojha's first-innings performance, Ashwin (6-47) stole the limelight through some smart spin bowling on a track where 25 wickets have gone down in the last two days.
In the process, Ashwin became the seventh Indian to begin his Test career with a five-for, and his match haul nine for 128 is also the second-best for an Indian on debut, behind Narendra Hirwani's 16 for 136, incidentally, against the same opponents, in Chennai in 1988.
Ashwin, who dismissed opener Kieran Powell late on Monday evening to trigger the slide, deservingly signalled the end of the West Indies innings by having Ravi Rampaul caught at deep midwicket.
Just before that the 25-year-old off-spinner from Chennai dismissed Darren Sammy (42) with his trademark carom ball delivery that skidded off the wicket, hardly giving the West Indian skipper any time to get his bat down.
India innings (38 runs, eight overs, no wicket):
In pursuit of a stiff target, Sehwag (20 not out) and Gambhir (17 not out) then kept up the good work by guiding India to 38 for no loss by tea, leaving the hosts with another 238 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Sehwag was lucky to have survived as he was dropped by Rampaul in his follow-through.