Ramandeep Singh gave India the lead in the 18th minute before Talwinder Singh doubled the lead for his side in the 50th minute.
Sam French pulled one back for the Englishmen, converting a penalty corner in the 67th minute.
Despite the victory, the Indians looked far from convincing in the match and did just enough to secure the victory.
The Indians got four penalty corners in the match but failed to convert a single one. England were no better as they utilised just one of the six short corners that came their way.
India forced three penalty corners early in the second half -- 41st, 42nd and 45th minutes, but Amit Rohidas was woefully off target, hardly testing England goalkepeer Gibson.
The Indians should also thank their custodian Harjot Singh, who made a couple of great saves to keep a clean slate for his side till the 67th minute.
India coach Gregg Clark too agreed that his wards were not upto the mark against England.
"We failed to capitalise on the chances we created but all credit to England who stayed in the game and gave us a tough time," Clark said after the match.
"It is a question of getting things right and this being our first match it was a decent performance as we really should have not been caught in possesion as many times as we did," he said
"Still I am happy with the three points and a winning start is always welcomed. But we can improve," the South African added.
India beat England 2-1 in Sultan of Johor Cup opener Featured
Johor Bahru (Malaysia): India started their campaign in The Sultan of Johor Cup Under-21 hockey tournament on a perfect note, defeating England 2-1 in their opening round-robin match here on Sunday.
The Indians scored a goal each, both from field efforts, in both the halves to pocket full three points from the encounter.