England had reduced the visitors to 145 for seven on a bowler-friendly pitch early in the final session, but Rahane's 103, along with support from number nine Bhuvneshwar Kumar (36), ensured India had rallied to 290 for nine at the close.
Having won the toss and elected to bowl, the hosts initially struggled to find their rhythm on a green-looking surface, taking only two wickets before lunch.
However, a four-wicket burst in the middle session followed by another dismissal shortly after tea put England in control before Rahane's late assault. Rahane's knock, which included 15 fours and a six, was ended by a sharp caught and bowled effort by Anderson late in the day.
Tail-enders Ishant Sharma (12) and Mohammed Shami (14) safely navigated the closing overs to ensure England will have to come out and bowl on Friday morning.
The Lord's surface was in marked contrast to the one used in Nottingham, which came in for fierce criticism for its placid nature as the first match of the five-test series petered out to a tame draw.
After being presented with a pitch to their liking, England initially failed to grasp the opportunity to make significant inroads into the Indian line-up, with openers Shikhar Dhawan (7) and Murali Vijay (24) the only wickets to fall before lunch.
However, four more dismissals in the middle session put the hosts in the driving seat.
James Anderson had the dangerous Virat Kohli caught by Matt Prior for 25, the wicketkeeper looking slightly sheepish after dropping two catches before lunch, while Ben Stokes knocked back Cheteshwar Pujara's middle stump after an obdurate 28 from 117 balls.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who raised England's ire by reporting Anderson for an incident involving Ravindra Jadeja at Trent Bridge, received a frosty reception from the Lord's crowd and much to their delight, lasted only 17 balls before being caught by Prior off Stuart Broad for one.
Jadeja, also unpopular with the home fans, was trapped lbw by Moeen Ali for three, leaving India in disarray at 128 for six before the tea interval.
Stuart Binny (9) was also out leg before, although had the decision review system been in use the decision may have been overturned as Anderson's delivery appeared to be going over the wickets.
However, Rahane, in his seventh test, took advantage of England's tiring bowling attack and brought up his second test century with a stab through to the offside boundary off Anderson.
He put on 90 with Kumar before the latter, who passed 50 in both innings at Trent Bridge, was bowled by Broad soon after the new ball was taken.
- Sports & Recreation
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- James Anderson