Opener Colin Munro hammered an unbeaten 109 before the Kiwi bowlers straitjacketed India's batsmen, as New Zealand won the second Twenty20 International by 40 runs to level the three-match series, in Rajkot, on Saturday.
The left-handed Munro, dropped on 45, used his bat like a sledge-hammer and struck seven sixes and as many fours in his 58-ball knock to power New Zealand to an imposing 196 for two.
Munro raised a 105-run partnership for the first wicket with Martin Guptill (45 off 41) and set the platform for a big total in the do-or-die match between the teams.
Left-arm pacer Trent Boult, who claimed four wickets for 34 runs, crippled India's run chase right at the start, dismissing openers Shikhar Dhawan (1) and Rohit Sharma (5) in his first over.
Although captain Virat Kohli kept India’s hopes alive with a typically aggressive innings of 65, which was studded with a six and eight fours, the home team’s asking rate kept climbing steeply, and in the end they fell well short, only able to muster 156 for seven.
The third and final match of the series is on November 7, at Thiruvananthapuram.
India had a disastrous start in the run-chase. They lost in-form openers Dhawan and Rohit in the second over to Boult.
The pair, which scored 80 runs in a record opening stand of 158 in a winning cause in the series opener at Delhi, was out to poor shots, Dhawan losing his stumps when playing across to the left arm pacer and Sharma hanging his bat out loosely to be caught behind.
Young Shreyas Iyer, in only his second game for the country, started encouragingly by playing some excellent shots square of the wicket shots on the off-side for fours.
With captain Kohli, displaying superb touch again, Iyer stitched together a partnership of 54 runs, but then lost his wicket to Munro, who ran yards to his right to complete a good catch off a leading edge.
Kohli, who slammed Santner for two fours and a six in a single over, was left with the task of guiding India home.
India lost the dangerous Hardik Pandya in the next over from Ish Sodhi, who foxed the batsman with a googly and disturbed the stumps, leaving the hosts precarious placed 67 for four.
At the half-way stage, India were 71 for 4, requiring 126 more to win the game.
Kohli, finding the gap to hit a four regularly, and his predecessor at the helm, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, kept India in sight of the target with a stand of 56 runs.
India's skipper reached his 18th half-century off 32 balls while Dhoni, content to play second fiddle, survived a stumping chance off Sodhi before carting the next ball over long-on for a six.
Spinners Sodhi and Santner bowled well in the middle overs as the pressure kept growing.
Kohli finally succumbed to the pressure when he stepped out to Santner for a mighty heave but got an edge and was caught behind by the New Zealand wicketkeeper.
Dhoni's was the seventh wicket to fall in the last over, after the fall of Axar Patel two overs earlier.
Earlier, none of the Indian bowlers, barring Jasprit Bumrah in his first spell, could contain the rampaging Munro.
The worst sufferer was debutant Mohammed Siraj, who was struck repeatedly for sixes by the southpaw and ended up giving away 53 runs for the lone wicket of rival skipper Kane Williamson.
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (1/36) and Axar Patel too failed to stem the run-flow.