Negotiating a spin-friendly track with aplomb, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja scored fifties before India declared their second innings at 377 for five to set New Zealand a stiff 434-run target to win the first Test in Kanpur on 25 September.
But, India's premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin ensured that the Kiwis lost their first three wickets for a mere 43 runs. Ashwin, who took four wickets in the first innings, struck a double blow to get rid of Martin Guptill (0) and in-form Tom Latham (2) in the fourth over of the second innings.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson (25) and Ross Taylor (17) tried to rebuild the innings, but soon Ashwin returned to break their 40-run partnership by trapping Williamson in front of the stumps. If that wasn't enough, Taylor's carelessness and Umesh Yadav's lucky throw effected a run-out in the 22nd over.
Ashwin was again in the nick of things while bowling to Luke Ronchi who called for a couple after getting an inside edge towards deep midwicket. On the other hand, Yadav quickly covered his ground and fired in a direct hit from quite a distance to catch Taylor short at the crease.
Earlier in the opening session, after losing three wickets, India also lost Ajinkya Rahane (40) but Rohit (68*) and Jadeja (50*) ensured that the hosts did not suffer any more reversal after that.
They raised an unconquered 100-run stand for the sixth wicket and the moment Jadeja got a single off Mitchell Santner to get to his half-century, Indian captain Virat Kohli declared and umpires called the tea break.
Jadeja celebrated his milestone by wielding his bat like a sword before the two batsmen walked off the field.
New Zealand now have a humongous task to save the Test as they need to bat four sessions to avoid defeat. No team has ever successfully chased such a target in Test history.
Rohit and Jadeja played in contrasting fashion with the left-hander being more aggressive even as they scored 125 runs in the second session after Rahane was trapped by Santner.
Rohit's 68 came off 93 balls with eight boundaries while Jadeja entertained the Sunday crowd with two fours and three sixes in his 58-ball stay.
The hosts lost three wickets, including captain Virat Kohli, in the morning session but took their lead past the 300-run mark by adding 93 runs to the overnight total of 159 for one.
Both overnight batsmen -- Murali Vijay (76) and Cheteshwar Pujara (78) -- departed along with skipper Virat Kohli (18).
Except for two overs, New Zealand skipper Kane Willamson had his spinners operating from both ends and each one of the three delivered a wicket apiece.
Vijay and Pujara batted for about 10 overs together before left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner broke the 133-stand between them by trapping the former.
Vijay played for turn, but missed the ball, which struck his pad before hitting the outside edge of his bat. He could add only 12 runs to his overnight total.
(With PTI inputs)