Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid hit contrasting centuries to give India the upperhand against New Zealand on Day 1 of the first Test, at the Sardar Patel stadium, in Motera, Ahmedabad, on Thursday.
At stumps, India were 329 for 3 in 90 overs, with Sachin Tendulkar unbeaten on 13 from 47 balls and VVS Laxman on 7.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss for the first time in nine matches and his batsmen made sure the opportunity was not wasted.
Sehwag dominated from the start, stroking his way to a cracking 173 from 199 balls, inclusive of 24 boundaries and a six, before he missed a straight delivery from Daniel Vettori and was bowled.
He and Dravid helped India take control as they put on 237 runs in 376 balls for the second wicket on a dream pitch for batting.
Dravid blossomed after a cautious start to score 104 from 227 balls before he inside-edged a short delivery from Chris Martin back on to his stumps.
Gautam Gambhir was out cheaply after he inside-edged an incoming delivery from Chris Martin on to his stumps and was bowled for 21 from 41 balls. He put on 60 for the first wicket with Sehwag.
India went in at full strength with the return of batting mainstays Gambhir and VVS Laxman, in place of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara respectively. Pacer S Sreesanth, who impressed during the second Test against Australia in Bangalore last month, also retained his place in the side ahead of Ishant Sharma.
New Zealand handed debuts to youngsters Kane Williamson and Hamish Bennett.
Morning session: (30 overs, 127 runs, 1 wicket)
Sehwag took no time to find his bearings as he slammed Chris Martin for three boundaries through the off-side in the third over of the innings.
Debutant Hamish Bennett bowled with good pace at the start and troubled Gautam Gambhir a bit, but the slow nature of the track meant the left-hander had enough time to adjust.
There was nothing for the fast bowlers even as early as the first hour of the match. Sehwag showed ominous signs early on as he eased another full delivery from Martin through the covers for a four.
With the pacers not making any impression, Vettori was forced to bring himself into the attack in the ninth over.
Gambhir also finally seemed to have banished his nerves, as he hit Bennett for back-to-back boundaries to take India to 46 for no loss after ten overs.
Sehwag needed no second invitation when part-timer Jesse Ryder was introduced into the attack. He lofted the medium pacer down the ground for a four and followed it up with another shot along the ground in the same area for another boundary, in the 12th over.
But the medium pacer gave the Kiwis the much-needed breakthrough, claiming the wicket of Gambhir. The left-hander, who scored 21 from 41 balls, played tentatively to an incoming delivery only to inside edge it back on to his stumps.
Gambhir's poor run with the bat continued; he has now scored 154 runs in his last ten innings in Test cricket.
Off-spinner Jeetan Patel also suffered at the hands of Sehwag in the very first over he bowled. The India opener drove him twice through the cover region for a couple of boundaries that also brought up his fifty from 49 balls, in the 18th over.
At the other end, Dravid was content to bide his time with seven from 25 balls as India reached 91 for one in 20 overs.
Patel went around the wicket in his next over to Sehwag, but it hardly made a difference. Once again the off-spinner was hit through the off-side for two successive boundaries by Sehwag, who raced to 66 from 60 balls. It took his boundary count to 13, as India crossed the 100-run mark in the 22nd over.
He repeated the dose on Patel in his next over, hitting him for back-to-back fours, through the covers and fine leg respectively to race to 82 and give himself a chance to get a century before lunch.
However, Sehwag showed great maturity and was content to play out the last few overs before the lunch break to save himself for the second session.
At lunch, India were comfortably placed at 127 for one in 30 overs, with Sehwag on 87 from 84 balls, having hit 15 boundaries. At the other end, Dravid was keen to spend time out in the middle as he struggled to 12 from 57 balls.
Post-lunch session: (116 runs, 32 overs, 0 wicket)
New Zealand's bowlers adopted a defensive strategy after lunch and India were unable hit a boundary for the first six overs after the break.
They bowled short deliveries to Sehwag, directed at his body, while Dravid did not look to get the scoreboard moving whatever length was bowled to him.
Sehwag broke the shackles when he charged down the wicket and lifted Vettori down the ground for a four, his first after 31 balls. That boundary took him to 96 and also brought up his 1000 runs in Test cricket in 2010.
Sehwag did not waste time in the 90s and brought up his first century at the venue in some style. He danced down the wicket to Vettori yet again and chipped him over mid-off for his 17th boundary to complete his 22nd Test century from 111 balls, in the 39th over.
Martin suffered at the hands of Sehwag with the new ball and it was no different when he came back for a new spell. The Kiwi pacer tried the short deliveries against Sehwag, but he despatched one through midwicket and another through point for another couple of boundaries.
Sehwag's domination continued as he launched Kane Williamson over long-on for the first six of the match.
Dravid, finally, managed to break free somewhat, hitting two boundaries in a single over from Ryder, to move to 28.
Vettori also could not make an impression with the ball and Sehwag charged down the wicket and drove him straight down the ground for his 21st boundary of the innings.
Dravid, on 28, got a lifeline when wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins failed to hold on to a difficult chance standing up the wickets to Ryder, in the 50th over.
The opener changed gears suddenly and came down the wicket and hit Vettori over the mid-on for a boundary, his third four in the space of 16 deliveries.
Sehwag was having fun out in middle; he lofted Ryder over the cover region for a four and took India past the 200-run mark in the 52nd over.
To add to New Zealand's frustration, Sehwag (144) was dropped by Patel, the bowler failing to cling on to a difficult return chance.
The runs were leaking from both ends now as Dravid also started to play a few shots. Patel struggled with his line and length, and was twice cut for boundaries through the point region.
Dravid repeated the dose again in Patel's next over for a boundary through point, his eighth of the innings, to bring up his half-century from 151 balls. The off-spinner was then driven through midwicket for yet another four as India reached 235 for one in 60 overs.
At tea on the second day, India were sitting pretty at 243 for one in 62 overs, scoring at just under four runs per over.
Sehwag was unbeaten on a sparkling innings of 152 from 172 balls, inclusive of 22 boundaries and a six, while Dravid made 61 from 162 balls, inclusive of nine fours.
Post-tea session: (86 runs, 28 overs, 2 wickets)
Sehwag, who seemed in discomfort while running in the second session, walked out with a runner after the break.
Dravid helped himself to a boundary, flicking a full delivery from Bennett fine through the leg side for a four in the first over after the break. The former India captain got a rude wake-up call when he was hit on the helmet by a short delivery from Bennett that didn't bounce much.
The Kiwi pacer tried the trick again but this time Dravid was quick to pounce on it and pulled him through midwicket for a boundary to bring up the 200-run partnership for the second wicket, in the 65th over.
Sehwag, on 156, got another reprieve when substitute fielder Martin Guptill grassed a catch at midwicket as the batsman top edged an attempted sweep against Williamson.
With Sehwag looking content to score in singles and twos, Dravid made sure the tempo didn't drop as he hit a boundary each off Vettori and Williamson in successive overs to take the total to 283 for one in 70 overs.
Dravid (90) also got a lifeline when wicketkeeper Hopkins failed to latch on to an edge; it continued New Zealand's miserable day in the field.
But New Zealand finally managed to get the much-needed breakthrough when Vettori got the big wicket of Sehwag. The right-hander was late to get his bat down and missed a straight delivery from Vettori. He was bowled after a scintillating knock of 173 from 199 balls, laced with 24 boundaries and a six.
Sehwag walked back to a huge cheer from the Ahmedabad crowd even as Sachin Tendulkar walked in to another big one. The master batsman, just one century short of 50 Test tons, could not have asked for a better pitch and match situation to make his way in to the middle.
Soon Dravid brought up his century, off 215 balls, with a double through the covers in the 78th over. It was the right-hander's 30th century in Test cricket, taking him past Don Bradman to sixth on the overall list, headed by Tendulkar, who had 49 centuries.
Interestingly, New Zealand took the new ball after 80 overs with India on 310 for 2, but Vettori and Ryder got first use of it as they tried an over each.
Finally, the pacers were brought back and the move paid off as Martin claimed the wicket of Dravid. The right-hander went after a short, wide delivery but only managed to inside edge it back on to his stumps and was bowled after a good knock of 104 from 227 balls, inclusive of 14 fours.
VVS Laxman got an early boundary when he played his trademark wristy flick through midwicket off Bennett. Tendulkar took 39 deliveries to get his first boundary as he drove a full delivery from Martin down the ground, in the 86th over.
The two veterans made sure that there was no further damage before the close of play.
At stumps on day one, India were 329 for three in 90 overs, with Tendulkar on 13 from 47 balls and VVS Laxman on 7.
The Kiwi bowlers managed to pull back things slightly in the final session -- just 86 runs came in the period -- while taking the key wickets of centurions Sehwag and Dravid. Vettori was the best bowler for the visitors, claiming one for 69 in 28 overs, but the rest struggled to make an impression and looked bereft of ideas.
But there is more to come as far as India are concerned, with Laxman and Tendulkar looking keen to continue their recent good run with the bat.