NEW DELHI: After bundling out New Zealand for 105 runs in second innings, India ended Day 3 of the first Test at 87/1 with Shikhar Dhawan (49*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (22*) at the crease.
India need 320 more runs to win the match with 2 full days at their disposal. India lost just the one wicket in the last session when Tim Southee dismissed Murali Vijay early.
Vijay (13), who hit 2 boundaries and put up a 36-run partnership with Shikhar Dhawan, failed in his attempt to play a cheeky leg glance and found keeper Bradley Watling instead.
Earlier, some fiery bowling by Ishant Sharma (3/28) and Mohammed Shami (3/37) helped India bundle out New Zealand with the hosts setting a target of 407 runs.
Ishant Sharma proved to the wrecker-in-chief after tea as he picked up three wickets to wrap up the New Zealand innings at 105 runs.
Ishant clean bowled Bradley Watling and then had Ish Sodhi caught in as soon as the first over after tea to pile misery on the hosts. He then dismissed Neil Wagner, who seemed to heading towards a dazzling cameo.
India completely dominated the proceedings on the third day as they picked regular wickets to reduce New Zealand to 78/7 at tea.
New Zealand had earlier bowled India out for 202 before lunch but did not enforce the follow-on after they scored 503 in their first innings.
Mohammed Shami, bowling a much fuller length, had earlier taken three wickets to reduce the hosts to 25-5 shortly after lunch to give India hope of a remarkable turnaround victory at Eden Park.
Watling and Ross Taylor (41) had settled the carnage before the latter was well caught by Ajinkya Rahane at gully off Zaheer Khan to send New Zealand’s last recognised batsman back to the pavilion with the score on 63-6.
The second innings collapse will only give heart to India’s vaunted batting lineup, who would feel comfortable chasing down a total of 400 with more than two days to achieve the target.
The bowlers, however, have dominated the day’s play with the drop-in pitch offering seamers both swing and lateral movement if they stick to a fuller length, with the quicks claiming 12 of the 13 wickets to fall on Saturday.
New Zealand had bowled India out 45 minutes before lunch, taking six wickets for 72 runs in an extended first session to make up for time lost due to bad light on Friday as Trent Boult and Tim Southee exploited the seamer-friendly conditions.
The hosts were then reduced to 15-4 at lunch, having lost Peter Fulton (5) and Hamish Rutherford (0) to Shami, with Kane Williamson brilliantly caught by Ravindra Jadeja at short midwicket for three off Zaheer.
Captain Brendon McCullum, who was dropped by Murali Vijay in the slips in the final over before lunch, was run out for one after a brilliant throw by Jadeja three balls later.
Corey Anderson joined Taylor after the break and was unable to clamp down on a quick delivery by Shami to be bowled for one and leave the hosts struggling at 25-5.
Taylor, who had resumed on five, and Watling stymied the carnage with a 38-run partnership before Zaheer was brought back and had an immediate impact by capturing the crucial wicket of Taylor.
The second match of the two-Test series is in Wellington and starts on Feb. 14.