Promoted to number four, Rohit finally came good in an international match as he planned his innings to perfection, hitting 55 not out off 33 balls with five fours and a slashed six off Jade Dernbach.
An upper-cut off England captain Stuart Broad was also a treat to watch as the Mumbai youngster finally repaid the faith shown by his skipper who persisted with him despite repeated failures.
Gambhir also scored an useful 45 off 38 balls, hitting five boundaries in the process as the Indian side which have six specialist batsmen did admirably well against the English pace quartet.
The four-pronged pace attack of Broad, Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn and Dernbach used the short ball liberally to test Gambhir but he played the horizontal bat shot with a lot of control.
In-form Virat Kohli looked good during is 32-ball-40 as he set the tempo with a fluent knock.
The unlikely bowling hero for England turned out to be Graeme Swann who gave away only 17 runs in his four overs.
Gambhir started with a pull shot off Jade Dernbach and then steered the bowler past third man region for consecutive boundaries. Trying to find some form, the two shots worked wonder for the senior opener.
Dhoni's gamble to open with Irfan Pathan in place of an injured Virender Sehwag flopped as the left-hander could only manage eight runs before a delivery from Steven Finn held its line after pitching and, in the process, knocked down the off-stump.