Tim McIntosh battled his way to a century to lift New Zealand against India on day one of the second Test at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad, on Friday.
At stumps on the opening day, electing to bat New Zealand were 258 for four in 90 overs with Jesse Ryder on 22 from 64 balls and Gareth Hopkins yet to open his account.
Opener McIntosh survived a tough morning session against the pacers before blossoming in the post tea session. The left-hander made 102 from 254 balls, having hit 10 fours and a six, before he inside edged one an incoming delivery from Zaher back on to his stumps.
McIntosh helped lay a solid foundation as he added 147 runs in 282 balls for the second wicket with Martin Guptill, who missed out on a deserved century.
Guptill, who got two reprieves, scored a brisk 85 from 160 balls, having hit nine fours and a six, before he was trapped leg before wicket by Pragyan Ojha.
The Rajiv Gandhi stadium made it's Test debut, becoming the 21st venue in the country to host a Test match. Interestingly, India have lost all three One-Day Internationals they have played at this venue, while Deccan Chargers lost all their home games in the first edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008.
The first Test in Ahmedabad ended in a high-scoring draw.
Morning session: (75 runs, 26 overs, 1 wicket)
Brendon McCullum got off the mark in style when he crashed a wide delivery from Sreesanth for a boundary through the covers, in the second over. But Sreesanth had the final laugh when he got McCullum caught behind for four with a superb outswinging delivery that pitched on and around the off-stump to take the edge to wicketkeeper Dhoni.
Sreesanth had settled into a good rhythm with the new ball right from the start as he got the ball to pitch on a perfect length while getting a lot of movement.
On the other end, Zaheer Khan continued to pose problems for McIntosh, who had bagged a pair in the first Test. The left-hander finally got off the mark in the series when he hit Sreesanth through covers for a four off the 14th ball he faced.
Martin Guptill (5) got a lifeline when he was caught behind off Sreesanth and was already on his way back before the umpires called him back after checking the replays with the TV umpire they found that the pacer had overstepped the bowling crease, in the eighth over.
New Zealand reached 24 for one in ten overs before spin was introduced in the form of Harbhajan Singh.
The off-spinner should have picked up a wicket in his third over when Guptill (13) got an edge trying to play the cut shot but Dhoni failed to hold on.
Guptill rubbed more salts on India's wounds when he drove Sreesanth through the covers for a four in the very next over. In the same over, McIntosh guided a wide delivery through the point region for another boundary in that over.
It suddenly became overcast but India brought on Pragyan Ojha to have spinners bowling from both ends.
McIntosh was gaining in confidence throughout as he showed when he drove Ojha down the ground for his third four to take the total to 55 for one in 20 overs.
Guptill, though, was the confident of the two. He danced down the wicket to Harbhajan and lofted him down the ground for the first six of the match, in the 21st over.
At lunch on day one, New Zealand reached 75 for one in 26 overs with McIntosh on 25 from 64 balls and Guptill on 36 from 86 balls.
New Zealand must be happy to have made a solid start, but India were also guilty of being a bit defensive in the first session, especially having a deep point fielder for the spinners.
Both the Indian pacers bowled a good spell with the new ball, but once they were off the attack, New Zealand looked quite comfortable.
Post lunch session: (84 runs, 29 overs, 1 wicket)
Guptill got the first boundary of the session when he drove Ojha past mid-off to move into the 40s, in the 29th over. In the following over, McIntosh creamed Sreesanth through the off-side for yet another four, his fourth of the innings.
Guptill also made Sreesanth pay for erring with his length as he drove a full delivery back past the pacer for his fourth boundary of the innings. The right-hander then cut a short delivery from Ojha to bring up his half-century in some style with a boundary, off 107 deliveries.
In the next over, Guptill crashed Sreesanth through the covers for yet another four to bring up the 100-run partnership for the second wicket with McIntosh.
Zaheer also got hit for a boundary off the first ball of his new spell when Guptill drove a full delivery down the ground, in the 36th over.
The spinners took over duties from both ends and started to keep things tight, but the Kiwis batsmen were patient and content to take the ones and twos.
Harbhajan drifted down the leg side and McIntosh guided him to the fine leg region for a boundary to bring up his half-century from 134 balls, in the 49th over.
Guptill then got another four when he charged down the wicket to Ojha and lifted him over the mid-on fielder. But the left-arm spinner got his revenge when he trapped Guptill leg before wicket, as the right-hander shuffled across his wickets but missed the ball.
Guptill was dismissed after a fine innings of 85 from 160 balls, laced with nine fours and a six, after having added 147 runs in 282 balls for the second wicket with McIntosh.
That was the only success for India as New Zealand reached 159 for two in 55 overs at the tea break.
McIntosh fought hard as he reached 55 from 151 balls, with the help of five boundaries, while Ross Taylor made four, as New Zealand once again made the Indian bowlers toil hard for wickets.
Post tea session: (99 runs, 35 overs, 2 wickets)
After a few tight overs in the third session, McIntosh broke the shackles when he danced down the wicket to Ojha and chipped him over midwicket for a six.
McIntosh, on 66, survived a huge appeal for leg before wicket against Harbhajan in the 61st over when he was struck on the pads trying to play across the line.
The left-hander looked to attack the spinners whenever the ball was flighted a bit. He came down the wicket to part-timer Suresh Raina and lofted him over mid-on for his sixth boundary, in the 66th over.
Ross Taylor took time to get his eye in before hitting his first boundary off the 51st ball he faced when he hit Zaheer through the covers.
Against the run of play, Zaheer struck with the wicket of Taylor for 24. The left-arm pacer, bowling from round the wicket, got one to leave the batsman which he edged behind to wicketkeeper Dhoni.
Jesse Ryder, who scored a century in the first Test, once again looked in good touch. He drove a wide delivery from Zaheer through the covers to get his boundary count off the mark.
McIntosh looked to lift the tempo as he charged down the wicket and looked to loft Harbhajan down the ground. But he lofted the ball in the air over mid-on but veteran Rahul Dravid could not reach the ball running back and also ended up conceding a boundary.
But a couple of overs later, McIntosh was totally in control as he slapped Harbhajan through the off-side for a four and move to 89.
Surprisingly, India even went on the defensive against new batsman Ryder as Harbhajan bowled with a long-on and long-off against the left-hander. Ryder has proved to be a big thorn for India, having scored all his centuries against them in four Test matches before this.
McIntosh made sure he completed his century before stumps as he charged down the wicket to Harbhajan and hit him over Ryder for a four. In the same over, he took a single to complete his second Test hundred from 238 balls, having hit ten fours and a six, in the 84th over.
Interestingly, it was the first hundred by a Kiwi batsman away from home after a gap of nearly six and half years.
India took the second new ball in the 87th over and the move worked as Zaheer claimed the wicket of centurion McIntosh.
The left-hander played a tired shot away from his body, which he inside edged back on to his stumps to be bowled for 102, having hit 10 fours and a six in his 254-ball knock.
It was a very important blow for India late in the day and they would be hoping to claim a few early wickets on day two.
At close, New Zealand were 258 for four in 90 overs, with Ryder on 22 from 64 balls and Hopkins yet to open his account.
McIntosh was patient and rotated the strike well as he took 45 singles, but India also allowed him the luxury by spreading their field.
Zaheer emerged as the best bowler for India, claiming two important wickets in the final session, to end up with two for 41 in 18 overs, while Sreesanth excelled with the new ball for one for 60 in 15 overs.
Ojha bagged one for 60 in 23 overs, but Harbhajan disappointed yet again as he went wicketless in 27 overs, giving away 66 runs.