Chasing a stiff target of 326, India lacked the batting firepower and were restricted to a 316 for nine in a high-scoring contest to concede a 1-0 lead to visitors in the five-match series.
Opting to bat first, England rode on a record 158-run opening stand between captain Alastair Cook (75) and in-form Ian Bell (85) to post an imposing 325 for four on a batting paradise at the newly built Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
The Indians conceded as many as 38 runs in the final two overs with Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar giving away 20 and 18 runs respectively. The late flourish by England proved costly for the hosts.
India began the run chase in right earnest with Ajinkya Rahane (47) and an out-of form Gautam Gambhir (52) adding 96 runs for the opening stand but both were guilty of frittering away a good start.
Yuvraj Singh (61), Suresh Raina (50) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (32) were other notable scorers but again none of them could translate the start into a match-winning effort.
Off-spinner James Tredwell was te pick of the English bowlers as he scalped four for 44 while Jade Dernbach chipped in with two wickets.
It was a creditable turnaround for the visitors who came into match with back-to-back defeats in the warm-up games against India A and Delhi respectively.
But Raina's departure in the 42nd over followed by the successive dismissals of skipper Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in the 45th over virtually sealed India's fate.
The rest of the batsmen were not up to the task of scoring the remaining runs though Ravichandran Ashwin (13) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (20 not out) brought the hosts closer to the target with a partnership of 24 for the 8th wicket but the target proved just beyond reach.
The victory is England's 14th in 41 ties between the two teams in this country.
Earlier, opting to bat first, England were powered by a record century partnership between captain Cook and Bell, who both scored impressive half centuries after the visitors chose to bat first.
Cook and Bell compiled 158 runs for the first wicket breaking a 30-year record for England against the hosts in the process to lay a fine platform on a placid track.
Left-handed Cook made 75 in 84 balls with 11 fours and a six while his right handed partner was slightly more aggressive in making 85 off 95 balls with nine fours and one six.
The duo were out in quick succession just past the halfway stage of the innings but the good work of the openers was continued by latter order batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan.
Pietersen (44 in 45 balls) and Eoin Morgan (41 in 38 balls) put on a breezy third wicket stand of 76 runs in 9.5 overs before both fell in 12 balls to Ashok Dinda.
However, Samit Patel smashed 44 not out in 16 balls, with six fours and a six, and added 70 runs in the last six overs with Craig Kieswetter who remained unbeaten on 24 off 20 balls with a four and two sixes.
The last two overs cost India 38 runs and with it the match in the final analysis. India commenced the stiff run-chase, having earlier made a winning score of 325 for 5
against the West Indies in November, 2002 at Ahmedabad – their highest at home - on a very sound note.
Openers Gambhir and Rahane batting confidently against the pace bowlers to rattle up quick runs before both perished to off spinner Tredwell in successive overs.
Both batsmen played the flick, glance and slash well to gather runs at a fast clip and Gambhir even struck fast bowler Steven Finn for three successive fours in the latter's third over in which the English bowler conceded 17 runs.
The 50 was raised in the 7th over before there was a minor scare when Gambhir narrowly made it home after sprinting for a second run to deep square leg.
But the advent of double off-spin in the form of Tredwell and Joe Root brought down the run-rate a bit and in their eagerness to up the tempo both openers fell.
Rahane was the first to go when he failed to reach the pitch of the ball after stepping out to Tredwell and lofted a catch to long off to the 57th ball he faced.
Tredwell sent back Gambhir soon after the left handed batsman had surged to his half century and the Indian 100 had come through a catch at short mid wicket when the batsman flicked the off-spinner.
From 96 for no loss, things became tougher for the hosts at 102 for 2 in the 19th over and at the end of the 20th India were 104 for 2, eight runs off their rivals' score at the same stage. By the halfway stage, the difference was nine in favour of England.
India fell further behind when Kohli departed for 15, edging one to wicketkeeper Keiswetter off Tim Bresnan leaving home team at a difficult 138 for 3. It was the Delhi batsman's 4th failure in as many innings.
owever, Yuvraj put India ahead in the next five by launching an all-out attack on Dernbach and hitting the medium pacer for three successive leg side fours in the 28th over and another in the 30th to race to his 50 in 38 balls, containing a six -- a leg side heave off Bresnan - and eight fours.
At the end of the 30th over, India had moved ahead to 176 for 3 in comparison to England's 167 for 1.
Suresh Raina gave Yuvraj good support as the two left-handers kept India in the hunt by adding 60 runs in 9 overs.
But India suffered a big setback when Tredwell induced the well-set Yuvraj to paddle sweep and the top edge was caught at fine leg just inside the 30-yard circle by Dernbach.
It was the off spin bowler's third wicket of the innings.
Though the home team was ahead by 10 runs after the 35th over at the start of the mandatory bowling powerplay, they had lost two extra wickets and at that stage needed 128 runs from the last 90 balls.
Raina, now the aggressor and senior partner, took 11 runs off Finn's 36th over and then slammed the wayward Dernbach for two leg side fours in the 39th.
In the 40th over there was a controversial appeal for a catch by Bresnan at third man off Raina after the ball had been dropped by the diving fielder and taken off the turf.
Third umpire Vineet Kulkarni ruled the decision in Raina's favour when the batsman was on 40. India added 33 runs in the bowling powerplay which left the hosts needing to get 95 runs in the last 10 overs. They could manage only 85 though.
The two teams will now travel to Kochi for the second one-dayer to be held on January 15.
Me and Raina could've have got India over the line: M S Dhoni
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today said India could have chased down the stiff 326-run target set by England in the first ODI here today, had he and Suresh Raina stayed till the end.
Chasing England's 325 for four, India lacked the batting firepower and were restricted to a 316 for nine in a high-scoring contest to concede a 1-0 lead to visitors in the five-match series.
Till Dhoni (32) and Raina (50) were at the crease, India were well and truly on course but lost wickets in regular intervals to make life difficult for themselves.
“It was difficult but we should have got there. It was close to 280 or 290 rather than looking at it as 320-odd. Maybe I should have batted a few more overs,” he said at the post-match presentation.
“I won't sound arrogant but it seemed easy when I and Raina were in, with five fielders in the circle. But once we fell, it was difficult,” he said.
Dhoni lauded his spiners for bringing India back into the match in the middle overs after, electing to bat, England went off to a scintillating start.
“There was a situation in the middle when it looked they would have scored 340, but spinners got us back. It is a new batch of bowlers, not much experienced in international cricket,” he said.
England skipper Alastair Cook attributed the win to team effort.
“It was a good toss to win on a very good wicket, and we made the most of it. I am proud of the side. Samit (Patel) and Craig (Kieswetter) at the end made a difference,” he said.
Patel and Kieswetter added quickfire 70 runs off 41 balls for the fifth wicket to take England past the 320-run mark.
“It is hard to defend with five men in the circle, India kept getting close, but we got the wickets when it mattered,” he said.
The English captain also praised man-of-the-match James Tredwell for his match-winning figures of four for 44.
“Tredwell bowled brilliantly. It is pretty much the same attack we had here in 2001, and good to see how we have learned from the experience,” Cook said.
Off-spinner Tredwell said while restricting, England got wickets when it mattered for the side.
“You try and hit your skills over and over again. If the batsman hits a good shot, so be it. We got wickets at the right time, even at the lower end, it is what helped us get
over the line,” he said.