Cheteshwar Pujara and Sachin Tendulkar stitched together an unbroken third-wicket stand of 64 as India remained on track in their pursuit of the 261 runs required to secure a sweep of the two-Test series against New Zealand yesterday.
The hosts had reached 147 for two, still needing 114 runs for victory, before steady drizzle stopped play an hour after lunch with youngster Pujara (41) and veteran Tendulkar (23) at the crease.
The duo survived some nervy moments after the loss of openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in quick succession, but looked in control as the innings progressed.
Brendon McCullum, filling in for regular wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, who was hit on the forearm while batting on Sunday, missed an easy stumping opportunity to dismiss Pujara on 37 off spinner Jeetan Patel.
Patel looked the most dangerous of the New Zealand bowlers and extracted sharp turn and bounce, but failed to dislodge the pair, who hit some delightful boundaries.
Sehwag (38) and Gambhir (34) started India’s second innings with great purpose, gleefully swatting the New Zealand pacemen around the ground to bring up a 50 partnership in just eight overs.
The duo added 77 for the opening wicket before Sehwag, who hit seven boundaries and a six, was bowled by Patel when he danced down the wicket to the off-spinner, but swiped inside the line of the ball, which went on to hit his off stump.
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor was forced to introduce his spinner in the 12th over after the quick bowlers had made no impact, and the move immediately bore fruit.
Sehwag greeted Patel with a six over long-off and hit another four before he fell trying to repeat the shot.
Left-hander Gambhir looked in fine touch and hit some expansive drives for seven boundaries before he edged left-arm seamer Trent Boult to Taylor at first slip.
Earlier, India needed little time to wrap up New Zealand’s second innings, taking the final wicket in the fifth over of the day to dismiss the visitors for 248.
New Zealand’s final pair of Patel (22) and Boult (unbeaten on four) added a crucial 26 runs for the 10th wicket to take the lead past the 250-run mark.
Resuming on their overnight score of 232-9, Patel was given caught behind off paceman Zaheer Khan, but he was clearly unhappy with the decision and television replays suggested he had missed the ball completely.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin finished with figures of 5-69 to register his third five-wicket haul in the last four innings against New Zealand, who trail the two-Test series 1-0.