India’s poor run away from home continued after New Zealand beat them by 40 runs in the first Test, in Auckland, on Sunday.
The visitors had raised hopes of eclipsing a record run-chase earlier in the day before a lower middle-order collapse extend their poor ‘away’ record to 10 defeats and a draw in their last 11 matches.
The defeat was another low for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has now lost 11 Tests away from home, the most by an Indian captain.
Chasing 407 for victory on the fourth day, India resumed their second innings at 87 for one and were on course, as Shikhar Dhawan (115) and Virat Kohli (67) put together 126 runs for the third wicket.
However, pacer Neil Wagner took four crucial wickets in the post-lunch session to derail the chase at Eden Park.
Dhawan, following a series of low scores, returned to form. He not only scored a patient century, but also anchored the Indian innings with Kohli, who also looked in good touch, before Wagner's double blow left India tottering at 270-5 at tea.
Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja launched a counterattack that left the Kiwis dazed, but it was not enough to see the side home.
In the end, Wagner’s dismissals of Dhawan, Kohli, Zaheer Khan (17) and Dhoni (39), which saw him return with an eight-wicket haul from the match, proved decisive.
Tim Southee added three wickets to his three-wicket haul of the first innings as the Kiwis took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series and also posted their tenth victory over India.
Earlier, India started the day still in need of 320 runs, and Dhawan and Pujara looked to consolidate on the start they had given the side the previous day.
In the day’s first over, Dhawan reached his fifty, after facing 75 balls and hitting five fours. It was a shaky start as he survived a couple of LBW shots, even though the deliveries seemed to be sailing over the stumps.
The Kiwis, especially Southee, bowled a nagging line and length, and he was soon rewarded.
In the fifth over of the morning, he bowled a near-perfect delivery to Pujara, who could do nothing but play at it and edge to the ‘keeper. He was out for 23 (71 balls, 1 fours, 1 six), leaving a mountain for the rest of the batsmen to climb.
Kohli then came out to bat and patiently saw off Southee's superb spell of 6-3-4-1.
At the other end, Dhawan too batted cautiously as the 100-run mark in the chase came up in the 32nd over. The pair tempered their batting according to the situation, mixing aggression with defence. However, once they departed, none of the batsman could cross the 40-run mark.
Having reduced India to 270-5 at tea, New Zealand made a cracking start after the break. Rohit Sharma (19) was dismissed first ball, to a beautiful out-swinger from Southee.
It was left to skipper Dhoni and Jadeja to salvage something out of the situation, as 137 runs were still left to get for victory.
Faced with the new ball, the duo went on a counter-attack. After Rohit's dismissal, the first five overs cost New Zealand 45 runs as the two batsmen smacked quite a few boundaries. They added 54 runs in just 5.4 overs, with Jadeja playing the more aggressive role.
The all-rounder hit 26 runs, off only 21 balls, inclusive of four fours and a six, as the 50-run partnership came up off only 33 balls.
The target came down to 83 runs when Jadeja was dismissed, caught at mid-on off Boult.
Zaheer Khan then soaked up a lot of pressure for 32 balls and scored 17 runs (one four, one six) as Dhoni farmed the strike. Together they added 25 crucial runs, as the chase got more intense.
It was left to Wagner to get another breakthrough. He had Zaheer caught at slip.
At eight down, Indian hopes rested on Dhoni, but he perished while going after a short and wide delivery from Wagner, and played it on to his stumps.
Dhoni was out for 39 runs after facing 41 balls and hitting six fours.
Boult wrapped up the innings with Ishant Sharma's (4) wicket.
Mohammad Shami was the unbeaten without scoring.
The second Test starts in Wellington on February 14.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan
Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty Images