Chasing 407 runs to win the first Test, Shikhar Dhawan (49*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (22*) took India to 87 for 1 at stumps on day three. (Getty Images)
A remarkable fightback from Team India saw them end day three at 87 for 1, needing 320 more runs to win the first Test against New Zealand, who suffered a dramatic batting collapse in the second innings to be skittled out for 105 at Auckland on Saturday.
India will have to better their best-ever chase - 406 against West Indies - by one run. It will also have to be the third highest successful chase ever in the Test history.
Shikhar Dhawan (49) and Cheteshwar Pujara (22) were at the crease for the visitors.
Resuming their innings at 130 for 4, India were dismissed for 202 to concede a first innings lead of 301 runs as overnight batsmen Rohit Sharma (72) and Ajinkya Rahane (26) failed to provide the side a good start. Skipper MS Dhoni (10) found the going tough, and edged one through the slips with the fielders not moving. He was on 4 at that time, but failed to capitalise, edging once again shortly afterwards, off Neil Wagner, and this time keeper BJ Watling made no mistake.
There was hardly any resistance from the lower order and fell like a pack of cards. With the moisture on the wicket thanks to the rain on the previous evening, Tim Southee and Trent Boult looked deadly, getting the ball to move to at will. For New Zealand, Wagner was the most successful bowler, finishing with 4 for 64 from 11 overs. He found ample support coming in from Boult (3 for 38) and Southee (3 for 38).
The Kiwis did not enforce a follow-on, hoping to bury the visitors under a mountain of runs but the ploy failed as Indians bounced back brilliantly to bundle out the hosts for just 105 runs in 41.2 overs on an the third day, which saw as many as 17 wickets fall. Ross Taylor was the top scorer for the hosts with his 41 runs, which came off 73 balls with five boundaries, including a six. Only three other NZ batsmen could manage a double-digit score.
The Indians took four wickets in the morning session and Kiwis never recovered from those early jolts. It was Shami, who triggered the collapse with wickets of both the openers. He trapped Hamish Rutherford leg before for a first-ball duck off the last ball of the very first over of the innings. And after couple of overs he got better of Peter Fulton (5), who was caught driving at cover, where Ravindra Jadeja took a regulation catch.
Jadeja was once again in action in the sixth over, when he took a screamer of a catch to send back in-form Kane Williamson, off Zaheer. Jadeja was not done yet as he ran out the New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum (1) in another brilliant fielding display. New Zealand took lunch at 15 for 4 with Taylor and Corey Anderson looking to rebuild the innings but their efforts were thwarted by Shami. He got reward for his efforts as he bowled Anderson (2).
The Black Caps were down to 25 for 5 with Taylor still at the crease. BJ Watling gave him support as the two players added 38 runs for the sixth wicket. But just when they were beginning to look comfortable, Taylor cut one from Zaheer to be caught at gully by Ajinkya Rahane. Ishant then wrapped up the tail and India bowled out NZ for partly 105.
Chasing 407 to win, the openers went about contrasting fashion with Murali Vijay opting to be cautious while Dhawan eager to see the ball to hit the middle of his bat more often. The left-hander struggled at the start but as the runs came by he settled in. Vijay was unlucky to be caught down the leg-side off Southee for 13, but Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara comfortably played out the day. Dhawan was unbeaten on 49, his highest score outside India.