A near flawless 160 by Sachin Tendulkar and three early wickets in New Zealand's second innings gave India total charge on the third day of the first Test in Hamilton on Friday.
At stumps New Zealand were 75-3, 166 runs short of wiping out an imposing 241-run deficit after India posted 520 in their first innings.
New Zealand made the worst possible start to the run chase when Tim McIntosh was given out three balls into the innings, caught at first slip by Tendulkar, in a questionable decision.
Television replays were inconclusive on whether the ball touched the ground but umpire Ian Gould was in no doubt and New Zealand lost their first wicket without scoring.
It was Tendulkar's day, with his majestic innings and then securing the McIntosh wicket, although he bruised his left index finger taking the catch, and took no further part in the day's proceedings.
In bat, he gave one chance at 13, dropped by Daniel Flynn, but was rarely troubled from there as he stroked his way to a record 42nd Test century, driving off the front and back foot, and cutting anything short to the boundary.
Resuming the day on 70, he raced into the 90s cracking 20 in the opening four overs, including four boundaries from the first 11 balls he faced.
Then followed seven long overs in the 90s, including a maiden facing Chris Martin on 99.
But just when it appeared the bowlers were starting to regain control, Martin was replaced by James Franklin and Tendulkar put the hammer down again.
He was eventually undone after 400 minutes at the crease when he flashed at an Iain O'Brien delivery that flew off the pitch and was well caught at first slip by Ross Taylor.
His 160, which included 26 boundaries, was the 14th highest score in the 35-year-old's illustrious 157-Test career.
India started the day at 278-4, one run behind New Zealand's total, and put on 106 in the morning session for the loss of only one wicket.
Chris Martin was the successful bowler when he went around the wicket and brought a ball back on Yuvraj Singh, who did not commit to a shot and was bowled for 22.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Tendulkar added 115 for the sixth wicket before O'Brien removed the Indian captain for 47, caught behind by Brendon McCullum.
It was the start of a golden patch for O'Brien as he took Tendulkar two overs later and exposed the Indian tail at 443-7.
But Zaheer Khan ensured India were far from done as he flailed away for an unbeaten 51, his third Test half-century, in a fortunate 46-ball cameo.
On reaching 22 after three consecutive fours off Kyle Mills, he skied a delivery to mid-on where Martin waited and waited, and then failed to get a hand to the ball.
Ten runs later Zaheer brought up India's 500 running two when dropped at deep cover by Flynn in an over when he took 13 off James Franklin.
Martin finished with figures of three for 98 while O'Brien took three for 103.
After New Zealand's faltering start to their second innings, Martin Guptill and Flynn put on 68 for the second wicket until Harbhajan Singh tempted Guptill with a half-volley which was hit straight to Virender Sehwag.
Guptill, on his Test debut, backed up his first innings 14 with 48 and New Zealand were 68 for two.
Mills, sent in as nightwatchman, lasted five overs before he was trapped leg before wicket by Munaf Patel on the final ball of the day, leaving Flynn not out on 24.