Hamilton: Sachin Tendulkar improved on his world record with his 42nd Test century as India built a 105-run lead over New Zealand with five wickets in hand on the third day of the first Test on Friday.
Tendulkar began the day 70 not out, with India one run short of New Zealand's first innings of 279, and moved on to his hundred in the first hour of the day with a mixture of brilliant stroke play and textbook defense.
By lunch Tendulkar was 135 not out, M.S. Dhoni was 22 not out and India was 384 for five.
Tendulkar took 20 runs from the first 13 balls he faced Friday to move into the 90s, then slowed before reaching his century from 168 balls in 260 minutes and with 15 fours.
He took two 2s and two singles to reach 96 then a three to got to 99, denied his century at that point by a desperate save on the cover boundary by New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori.
Tension built around Seddon Park, and among a crowd of several thousand fans made up overwhelmingly of New Zealanders of Indian descent, as Tendulkar played out a maiden over from Chris Martin to remain poised for 10 minutes on 99.
Indian captain Dhoni saw out a second maiden from Iain O'Brien before Tendulkar turned the first ball of the next over, bowled by James Franklin, behind square leg for a single.
He typically raised his bat and helmet to the crowd and looked skyward before composing himself and resuming his innings.
The century was Tendulkar's 92nd in all forms of cricket for India, his 42nd in Tests, his fourth against the New Zealanders and his second in New Zealand, 20 years after his first in Wellington in 1989.
He holds the record for the most centuries in Tests, leading Australian captain Ricky Ponting who has 37 and Sunil Gavaskar and Brian Lara — both now retired — with 34.
The current test is Tendulkar's 157th, making him the second most-capped player in Test history after Australia's Steve Waugh, who has played in 168 tests.
Tendulkar seemed determined from the start of his innings on Thursday to reach three figures. He batted carefully on the second day and had been at the crease almost 210 minutes for his 70 runs by stumps, having reached his 52nd Test half century in exactly three hours.
Tendulkar went on the attack early Friday, hitting Martin for fours through covers first from the front foot, then from the back foot, responding to a minuscule change in the bowler's length.
He added 76 for India's fifth wicket with Yuvraj Singh when Singh was bowled by Martin for 22 — the only Indian batsman dismissed in the morning session. Yuvraj failed to offer a shot to a ball from Martin, bowling around the wicket to the left-hander, which cut back slightly and struck off stump.