Only one team can win this game from here with two days and two sessions left.
Skipper Virat Kohli managed a painstaking 36 off 84 balls but Axar Patel entertained the Sunday crowd with his fiery cameo as India looked well on course for an imposing win, having set New Zealand an improbable victory target of 540 on the third day of the second Test.
India declared their second innings at 276 for 7 after Axar hit four sixes and three fours in his 41 off 26 balls to prop up the innings towards the end.
Ajaz Patel’s match-haul of 14 wickets — best by an opposition bowler against India in Test cricket is unlikely to save his team from an embarrassing defeat as they went into tea at 13 for 1 with Ravichandran Ashwin getting Tom Latham (6).
Early tea had to be taken after a spider cam, which had come down, couldn’t be fixed and umpires had to call for a break.
Their confidence already shattered, the New Zealand bowlers conceded as many as 25 fours and 11 sixes in the 70 overs they bowled in the second innings. In fact, all Indian batters save Wriddhiman Saha hit at least one six.
Having bowled out New Zealand for 62 in just over 28 overs, India could have easily enforced follow-on but skipper Kohli wanted the senior players, including himself, who are horribly out of form to gain some runs.
His idea was partially successful as Cheteshwar Pujara looked good during his 47 and Mayank Agarwal (62, 108 balls) did his cause no harm by smashing another half-century to top up his first innings score of 150.
The duo added 107 runs for the opening stand to add insult to New Zealand’s injuries and it was compounded by another 82 runs that Shubman Gill (47) added with Kohli.
Save a six that he hit off opposition’s weakest link, Will Sommerville, Kohli for the better part of his 84 balls, the India skipper didn’t look convincing before being played on by a friendly left-arm spin from Rachin Ravindra, who also had three wickets.
Patel, despite his four-wicket haul in the second innings, looked pretty ordinary although he got both of them.
But it was not before Agarwal and Pujara hit a flurry of boundaries in the morning session to put the pressure back on the bowlers.
Pujara, in fact, made a statement as he twice stepped out to identical flighted deliveries and whipped them through mid-wicket. This was the delivery that got him yorked in the first innings but he looked very comfortable in the second.
Agarwal was also in fine nick as he completed his second fifty plus score of the match with an effortless six over extra cover off Patel and then hit another boundary through the same area.
For a bowler, who already has 12 wickets in the match, Patel would feel that it’s a trifle insulting that Agarwal hit him for a total of eight sixes and even a defensive batter like Pujara lofted him for a maximum.
Agarwal was looking good for his second hundred of the game but in his bid to hit another six off Patel he could not reach to the pitch of the delivery and Will Young comfortably took the catch at long-off.
For Pujara this was the best chance to get a fifty and increase his confidence before the tour of South Africa.
He survived a strong DRS appeal but then one delivery that was pitched slightly fuller and turned, got his outside edge in slip fielder Ross Taylor’s safe hands.
India 1st innings: 325
New Zealand 1st innings: 62
Indian 2nd innings: M. Agarwal c Young b Patel 62; C. Pujara c Taylor b Patel 47; S. Gill c Latham b Ravindra 47; V. Kohli b Ravindra 36; S. Iyer st Blundell b Patel 14; W. Saha c Jamieson b Ravindra 13; A. Patel not out 41; J. Yadav c and b Patel 6. Extras (b6, lb3, nb1) 10
Total (7 wickets dec, 70 overs) 276.
Fall of wickets: 1-107, 2-115, 3-197, 4-211, 5-217, 6-238, 7-276
New Zealand bowling: Southee 13-1-31-0, Ajaz 26-3-106-4, Jamieson 8-2-15-0, Somerville 10-0-59-0, Ravindra 13-2-56-3
New Zealand 2nd innings: Tom Latham lbw b Ashwin 6; Will Young (batting) 7.
Total: 13 for 1
Fall of wickets: 1-13
Indian bowling: Mohammed Siraj 2-0-9-0; Ravichandran Ashwin 2-1-4-1.