India took complete control of the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington, building a big first-innings lead before reducing New Zealand to 24-1 at stumps in their second innings.
New Zealand looked as if they were working their way back into the match by the time Rohit Sharma fell for a duck and left India at 165-5, while Shikhar Dhawan fell agonisingly short of a second Test century in the series with 98.
But Ajinkya Rahane (118) and MS Dhoni (68) combined to devastating effect, putting on 120 runs together in quick time to breathe life into the innings and extend the advantage.
Ajinkya Rahane now the 76th batsman to score a Test 100 for India #NZvInd— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) February 15, 2014
It was Rahane's first Test century and helped cement a 246-run first-innings lead which is unlikely to be toppled.
And as if to prove the point, New Zealand lost a wicket in the nine overs they faced before stumps, Peter Fulton trapped lbw to Zaheer Khan after just nine balls.
The hosts will have to bat a long time to make a game of this Test now, with three days remaining and clear weather predicted.
|India 1st Innings||(NZ 192)|
|Dhawan||c Watling||b Southee||98||185||127|
|Vijay||c Watling||b Southee||2||5||6|
|I Sharma||c Watling||b Boult||26||52||50|
|Kohli||c Rutherford||b Wagner||38||131||93|
|Ro Sharma||b Neesham||0||8||3|
|Rahane||c Boult||b Southee||118||258||158|
|Dhoni||c Watling||b Boult||68||109||86|
|Jadeja||c Fulton||b Wagner||26||24||16|
|Zaheer Khan||c Watling||b Wagner||22||33||19|
|Extras||2nb 7w 8b 4lb||21|
|Total||all out||438||(102.4 ovs)|
|NZ 2nd Innings (1st Inns 192)||(India 438)|
|Fulton||lbw||b Zaheer Khan||1||6||6|
|Extras||1nb 0w 0b 0lb||1|
|Total||for 1||24||(9.0 ovs)|
The Black Caps started slowly but finally started to make some inroads with a trio of wickets midway through the morning session.
Nightwatchman Ishant Sharma was the first to fall, trapped by Trent Boult for 26. Dhawan then nicked behind to Southee with his century in sight before Sharma played on to give Jimmy Neesham his first Test wicket.
Virat Kohli helped kick-start the recovery with a patient 38 before becoming the first of Neil Wagner's three victims and then Dhoni and Rahane took over.
The run rate was notably quick—well beyond four runs an over—giving India plenty of time to get the Test won and level the series.
Only once before in an overseas Test India while making a 400+ total managed a better R/R of 4.26:at Auckland in Feb 1990 R/r 4.61 #NZvInd— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) February 15, 2014
If they achieve it, it will be their first Test victory overseas since June 2011—one that's long overdue.