Dravid, Dhoni put India in box seat
Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni batted with supreme authority to steer India into a huge lead after New Zealand bowlers had picked up three early wickets on the third day of the deciding Test match on Monday.
India declared their first innings at 566 for eight with a lead of 373 runs.
After declaring their first innings a mammoth 566 for eight declared built largely around Dravid's marathon knock and Dhoni's 98, the Indian bowlers went flat out in the final hour as the visitors reached 24 for one when stumps were drawn.
Harbhajan Singh trapped opener Tim McIntosh (8) leg before, leaving New Zealand with a huge task of scoring 350 runs to avoid innings defeat. New Zealand were 24 for 1 with Brendon McCullum (15) and Gareth Hopkins (1) at the crease when stumps were drawn on Day 3.
Dravid stood tall with his 31st Test hundred while captain Dhoni fell two short of his fifth hundred in Tests as they stitched together a 193-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Image: Rahul Dravid is congratulated by Mahendra Singh Dhoni on completing his century on Monday
Dravid shared a 193-run partnership with Dhoni
The duo's efforts ensured New Zealand would have a tough task to save the Test and the series, with more than two days left in the match.
The right-handed Dravid (191) got to the coveted century mark with a flicked two, 10 minutes before lunch at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.
The 37-year old missed his double hundred by nine runs when he holed out to Martin Guptill at long-off trying to hit part-time offspinner Kane Williamson out of the ground.
Along with Dhoni, Dravid added 193 runs for the sixth wicket to consolidate India's position in the match.
The moment Dravid tucked Daniel Vettori to square leg for a two, it was more about the release of pressure than celebration for the former India captain. It took him 256 balls and 384 minutes to complete the ton.
Dravid remained solid throughout although he failed to get the scoreboard moving initially. He did punish the loose deliveries, as one bowled by Southee on his legs was whipped away to mid-wicket boundary.
He also pulled a short one from McKay to the square leg boundary.
Dravid played much more freely after reaching the three-figure mark. He hit some lovely strokes in the region between point and extra cover where the bulk of his runs were scored.
Image: Rahul Dravid
Dhoni played in his free-flowing style
Dhoni (98), who had been short of runs heading into the match, joined Dravid at the crease after the hosts had lost Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Laxman and Suresh Raina cheaply.
The pin-up boy of Indian cricket then stepped on the pedal with some lusty hits to demoralise the New Zealand bowlers. He hit 12 boundaries and a six in his knock, before offering a tame return catch to Daniel Vettori.
Dhoni, who has also faced a lot of flak of late, for his subdued batting looked to hit his way out of the bad patch with a flurry of boundaries of the pace bowlers.
He chose McKay for some special treatment hitting him for three successive boundaries in an over -- one through mid-on, then over point and the last one was over cover region.
Some of Dhoni's shots brought back memories of the past when he used to attack the bowlers with great gusto.The most delightful of all the strokes was the six he hit off Andy McKay. He launched into the fullish delivery and heaved it over long.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays the sweep shot as New Zealand's wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins looks on
Tendulkar misses 50th Test ton again
The tourists had a couple of half chances in the day but the fielders failed to cling on, making it more difficult for the under-assault bowlers.
Tendulkar (61) could add just four runs to his overnight score before he edged debutant Andy McKay to wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins to become the left-arm seamer's first Test wicket.
Laxman followed soon after as Chris Martin bowled a big inswinger to breach his defence while New Zealand captain Vettori dismissed Raina through a bat-pad catch at silly mid-on.
The three-Test series is tied at 0-0 after two draws.
Image: Clint McKay (left) celebrates after claiming the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar on Monday