New Zealand were bowled out for just 192 on the opening day of the second Test in Wellington before India raced to 100 for two in reply by stumps, led by Shikhar Dhawan.
Opener Dhawan scored 71 not out in just 87 balls to eat up the New Zealand lead and give the tourists early control at the Basin Reserve.
India must win the match to avoid a series defeat, and they exploited the conditions superbly to take control.
Ishant Sharma, fresh from being left out of India's Asia Cup and World T20 squads in Tuesday's announcement, responded by taking 6-51, the best Test figures of his career to date.
At the start of the day particularly he was superb, taking his first three wickets while conceding just one run as New Zealand's top order wilted on an unusually-green pitch.
Bowling first was the only choice when India skipper M.S. Dhoni won the toss, especially with New Zealand's top order looking as green as the pitch.
With veteran Ross Taylor missing the Test to be present at the birth of his child, Tom Latham came in for a debut, as did all-rounder Jimmy Neesham in place of Ish Sodhi.
Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton and Latham all fell early, with captain Brendon McCullum compounding the Black Caps' misery with a timid exit, spooning Mohammed Shami to mid-off. It left New Zealand reeling at 51-4 at lunch.
The afternoon session was scarcely better, although Kane Williamson showed some application to top-score with 47.
Cameos from the likes of Corey Anderson (24), Neesham (33) and Tim Southee (32, including three sixes) prevented total humiliation, but New Zelaand were still all out shortly after tea.
|New Zealand vs. India, 2nd Test Scorecard: Day 1|
|New Zealand 1st Innings|
|Fulton||lbw||b I Sharma||13||48||31|
|Rutherford||c Vijay||b I Sharma||12||39||34|
|Williamson||c Ro Sharma||b Shami||47||167||100|
|Latham||c Dhoni||b I Sharma||0||8||8|
|B McCullum||c Jadeja||b Shami||8||40||19|
|Anderson||c Kohli||b I Sharma||24||58||43|
|Watling||c Ro Sharma||b I Sharma||0||7||4|
|Neesham||c Dhoni||b Shami||33||57||35|
|Southee||c Vijay||b I Sharma||32||38||32|
|Boult||c Pujara||b Shami||2||5||5|
|Extras||6nb 8w 0b 2lb||16|
|Total||all out||192||(52.5 ovs)|
|India 1st Innings|
|Vijay||c Watling||b Southee||2||5||6|
|I Sharma||not out||3||14||16|
|Extras||0nb 1w 4b 0lb||5|
|Total||for 2||100||(28.0 ovs)|
They would still have had hope of turning the contest around with ball in hand, but Dhawan's knock ensured it was India's day.
Murali Vijay fell cheaply to the new ball before Cheteshwar Pujara combined with Dhawan to see off the new ball. But while Pujara was undone by Trent Boult on 19, Dhawan accelerated late in the day and gave India a platform from which to build a lead on day two.