NAGPUR, India (Reuters) - Half-centuries from each of India’s top-order batsmen gave the hosts the control after their bowlers had dismissed New Zealand for 193 on the second day of the third and final test on Sunday.
At the close, India had reached 292 for two for a lead of 99 runs, with the experienced duo of Rahul Dravid (69) and Sachin Tendulkar (57) at the crease.
Dravid, with his 60th fifty in tests, and Tendulkar, who needed 43 more for his 50th test hundred, have already added 100 runs for the unbroken third-wicket partnership.
Virender Sehwag (74) and Gautam Gambhir (78) combined for a quickfire opening stand of 113 after paceman Ishant Sharma and spinner Pragyan Ojha picked up the final three New Zealand wickets in the morning.
Sehwag flayed the New Zealand bowlers and brought up a run-a-ball half-century -- his 26th in tests -- with 12 boundaries and a six before falling to New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori caught and bowled.
The flamboyant right-hander played some delicate late cuts and audacious upper cuts and pulls as the visitors looked to attack him with short-pitched deliveries.
Gambhir celebrated his appointment as India captain for the first two one-dayers against New Zealand with a confident knock, cut short when he poked at a Tim Southee delivery outside the off-stump to give Ross Taylor catching practice at slips.
New Zealand had resumed on their overnight score of 148 for seven but lasted just one hour with 45 runs added to their total.
Sharma snapped up the wickets of Brendon McCullum (40) and Andy McKay (5) to add to his scalps on the first day, Taylor and Vettori.
McCullum edged to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps while trying to force Sharma off the back foot, then debutant McKay had his stumps uprooted by an off-cutter.
Paceman Southee (38) was left-arm spinner Ojha’s third wicket of the innings after a cameo during which he hit three huge sixes to move the visitors close to the 200-run mark.
The series is tied at 0-0 after two draws.