Wellingon: India took a big step towards winning their first Test series in New Zealand since 1968 after racking up a 233-run lead early in their second innings of the third in Wellington on Saturday.
Inda's pace sensation Zaheer Khan took five for 65 to help India bowl out New Zealand for 197 on the second day at the Basin reserve. Gambhir and Dravid took India to 51/1 at stumps on Day 2 of the third Test in Wellington. Gautam Gambhir was unbeaten on 28 and Rahul Dravid was at the other end on nine.
Khan mixed good length swinging deliveries with short lifting balls to unsettle the New Zealand batsmen on a pitch which had been expected to be ideal for batting.
Offspinner Harbhajan Singh was also one of India's heroes, bowling 23 consecutive overs at a scoring rate of less than two an over to end with three for 43.
New Zealand's plan late Friday as India's innings came near an end had been to bat for a day and a half to build a lead that could set them up for a series squaring victory.
The Kiwis had renewed confidence after turning things around to draw the second Test following a 10-wicket drubbing in the first, but their plans unravelled soon after their openers came to the crease.
There were only limited signs of resistance from New Zealand; Ross Taylor topscored with 42 before seemingly being unlucky to be given out caught behind by umpire Daryl Harper.
An attempted leg glance off Harbhajan ended in Dhoni's gloves and Harper's finger went up, although replays suggested Taylor did not get bat on ball.
Opening batsman Tim McIntosh made a scratchy 32 before he was surprised by a rising short ball from Khan, which ballooned off the top of his bat to Yuvraj Singh at first slip.
Soon after lunch, New Zealand found themselves struggling at 80-3 and many hopes rested on burly batsman Jesse Ryder, the hero of the second Test with a double century that followed hard on the heels of a century in the opening Test.
Ryder's naturally aggressive instincts have been tempered since his introduction to Test cricket in October last year.
But in a lapse of concentration he took a wild swipe at a short pitched Khan ball, sending a simple edge to Dhoni after scoring just three.
Earlier, India resumed its first innings at 375-9 and added four runs from 13 balls before Sharma was out for 18. Munaf Patel was 15 not out and the pair had added 32 for India's last wicket.
Sachin Tendulkar remained India's top scorer with 62 while Harbhajan made 60, Dhoni 52 and Sehwag 48.
India leads the three-test series 1-0 after winning the first test at Hamilton by 10 wickets and is bidding strongly to become the first Indian team to win a test series in New Zealand in 41 years.
Dhoni's six catches equalled the record for wicketkeeping dismissals in a test innings between New Zealand and India. He shares it with compatriot Syed Kirmani, who took five catches and made a stumping at Christchurch's Lancaster Park in 1976.