Listless Indian bowling allowed New Zealand get off the hook. The home team rode on captain Brendon McCullum's magnificent double century to continue a remarkable fightback and take a commanding lead on the fourth day of the second Test in Wellington on Monday.
McCullum, who was unbeaten on 281 runs, shared a world record partnership of 352 runs for the sixth wicket with BJ Watling (124), helping the Kiwis reach a formidable 571-6 at stumps and take the game away from India at the Basin Reserve.
India, who had New Zealand in a spot of bother at 94 for five in their second innings on Sunday, now face the prospect of even losing the match, with the hosts having swelled their lead to 325 runs.
The duo defied the visitors for 123 overs and turned around a 246-run deficit into a massive lead with a day left in the match.
McCullum, who faced 525 balls and hit 28 fours and four, was still batting after nearly six sessions at the crease .
At the other end, James Neesham brought up his maiden Test fifty and was unbeaten on 67 off 93 balls, inclusive of nine fours.
Zaheer Khan (3-129), Mohammad Shami (2-136) and Ishant Sharma (0-124) toiled on an unresponsive pitch, particularly with the third new ball.
Ravindra Jadeja (1-108) was rendered ineffective as well. Part-timers Rohit Sharma (0-40) and Virat Kohli (0-13) were given a go to try something different, while skipper MS Dhoni (0-5) also bowled after the tea-break.
Starting at 440 for five after tea, the set batsmen had another string of batting records coming their way, with the pitch playing the perfect foil. As Dhoni bowled his gentle medium pace first up, McCullum and Watling crossed the 350-mark for their partnership in the 159th over.
An over later, they brought up the highest ever sixth-wicket partnership in Test cricket, breaking the 351-mark by Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene, also set against India, at Ahmedabad in 2009. Their lead also swelled to 200.
The third new ball was taken immediately and the Indian pacers put in a lot of effort to change the complexion of the match. Shami finally got the breakthrough in the 161st over, trapping Watling leg before. The batsman faced 367 balls and hit 13 fours.
Meanwhile, McCullum carried on and crossed the 250-run mark, starting to climb the ladder for highest individual score for a New Zealand batsman. At the other end, Neesham too joined in the fun and struck some lusty blows, matching his partner for strokes.
They continued to punish the hapless bowling on a flat track and in the final session put on 125 runs for the seventh wicket, as the hosts crossed the 550-run mark.
McCullum heaped misery on India, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer for New Zealand, behind Martin Crowe's 299, scored against Sri Lanka at the same ground in 1991.
On the final day, he will attempt to become the first Kiwi batsman to get a Test triple hundred.
Earlier, in the post-lunch session, McCullum and Watling continued their brilliant domination of the Indian attack as the completely changed character and became a batting beauty. They brought up the 350-mark for New Zealand in the 128th over, the first one after the break, and then carried on to reach personal milestones.
They first broke the highest partnership record for New Zealand for any wicket against India, bettering the 271 runs scored by Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder in Napier in 2009. Then, in the 138th over, Watling brought up his third Test century in 420 minutes, facing 297 balls and hitting 12 fours. Unlike his captain, who was dropped twice, the keeper-batsman never even gave a sniff of a chance to the Indian bowlers.
Their 300-run partnership came in the 142nd over, and two overs later McCullum became the first New Zealand batsman to hit back-to-back double hundreds.
It was his third double hundred, all three having come against India; he is only the second New Zealand batsman after Stephen Fleming to score three double hundreds. Before going to tea, they crossed the 339-run sixth wicket stand between McCullum and Martin Guptill against Bangladesh in 2010 and became the third-highest-ever partnership for New Zealand in Test cricket.
In the morning session, starting at their overnight score of 252-5, McCullum and Watling needed a double approach on the fourth day's play.
If it was all about survival on Day 3, now they also needed to score runs and put pressure on India. And they did not get bogged down, as shots started flowing once they both got a feel of the conditions early on.
For the record, the golden-brown pitch now looked completely different from the lush-green wicket that it was on day one. Their progress was very heartening for the hosts' camp, with the scoring rate reaching 4.7 over in the first ten, and in the first hour of play, 56 runs came in the 13 overs
The 200-run partnership between the two batsmen came up in the 110th over of the innings. As if sensing the high scoring rate, Jadeja was introduced in the 115th over and was given an attacking field with three close-in fielders.
But it did not have any effect on the two settled batsmen who marched along without fuss. In the next over, McCullum crossed the 150-run mark for the second time in the series, notching his best series aggregate and going past his previous best of 370 runs, also scored against India in 2010. He faced 303 balls and batted for a humongous 432 minutes it, hitting 18 fours and one six.
After being put down twice on Sunday, if at all he gave a chance, it was in the 122nd over bowled by Zaheer, when he edged one past the slip cordon, where Shikhar Dhawan was standing at third slip.
Watling, though, was solid as ever at the other end, and the 250-run partnership came up in the 126th over, just before the break.
On Day 1, Ishant Sharma's best Test figures of 6-51 shot out New Zealand for a paltry 192 runs. Then, on Day 2, Ajinkya Rahane (118) struck his maiden Test hundred to take India to 438 in their first innings, a lead of 246 runs.
On Day 3, needing 247 runs to make India bat again, New Zealand were reeling at 94-5.
Day 4 was all about McCullum, Watling and Neesham as the home team batted India out.
Image: Brendon McCullum celebrates his double century during Day 4 of the second Test against India in Wellington.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images