Openers Gavin Rennie and Craig Wishart lifted Zimbabwe with an unbroken century partnership. Wishart struck an unbeaten 56 and Rennie scored 35 not out to spur Zimbabwe to 102 without loss at tea - 43 ahead.
India, 248 for 6 overnight, were dismissed for 280 during the morning session in reply to the home country's first innings of 221.
The tourists did not make the most of the new ball and squandered an early chance to break through.
Wishart escaped on 0 before lunch when Mohammad Azha-ruddin, fielding at second slip, dropped a catch off the bowling of debutant paceman Ajit Agar-kar. Paceman Henry Olonga completed his first five-wicket haul in Test cricket as India's last four wickets fell for 32.
Olonga reached his landmark in the sixth over of the day and finished with 5 for 70.Reuse content