Napier: India lost captain MS Dhoni to injury but maintained their dominance over New Zealand, reducing the home side to 98 for three at lunch on the first day of the second Test on Thursday.
Dhoni withdrew from the Indian team on the morning of the match with a back injury, handing the captaincy to Virender Sehwag who led India into a Test for the second time. Sehwag previously captained India against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad in 2005, in the absence of Rahul Dravid.
While Dhoni has been an inspirational figure in India's recent rise in world cricket, his team continued to perform clinically in his absence, claiming three wickets after New Zealand won the toss and batted.
Dinesh Karthik, who took over at wicketkeeper from Dhoni, had a hand in the first wicket to fall, claiming a catch off Ishant Sharma to dismiss opener Tim McIntosh for 12 when New Zealand were 21.
Sharma beat McIntosh on several occasions with the help of some late swing but also with his angle across the left-hander from over the wicket. McIntosh finally pushed tentatively forward at a full delivery from Sharma which carried at chest height to Karthik.
Umpire Billy Doctrove upheld India's appeal but replays suggested the ball passed well wide of the outside edge of McIntosh's bat.
However, there was no doubt about the dismissals of Jamie How and Martin Guptill, both of whom fell to Zaheer Khan.
How, who replaced Daniel Flynn when he was ruled out of the match on Thursday with a bruised hand, was bowled by Zaheer with a full delivery through his attempted drive, uprooting leg and middle stumps.
New Zealand were 22 for two, then 23 for three when Guptill fell to Zaheer for 8, caught by Sehwag, diving forward in the gully, as he ducked and fended at a rearing delivery.
How and Guptill fell to successive deliveries from Zaheer — to the last ball of his fifth over and the first ball of his sixth — but Jesse Ryder safely avoided the hat-trick.
Ryder and Ross Taylor then steadied the New Zealand innings before lunch, reaching 39 and 32 respectively and adding 75 in an unbroken stand for the fourth wicket.
Taylor went from 0 to 16 with four fours in five balls from Ishant Sharma while Ryder, who made a maiden century in the first Test at Hamilton, looked the most composed of the New Zealand batsmen to date.
Khan, who was India's best bowler, had two for 26 at the interval.
India lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test by 10 wickets and are attempting to win a Test series in New Zealand for the first time since 1968.
India: Virender Sehwag (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Munaf Patel.
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Jamie How, Tim McIntosh, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder, James Franklin, Brendon McCullum, Iain O'Brien,