Rahul Dravid placed India in a firm position to take the match with his patient and well-crafted 191 in the third day of the Nagpur test against New Zealand.
With the overnight total of 69, Dravid saw his partnership with Sachin Tendulkar (61) broken early in the day before new batsman VVS Laxman (12) also walked back after failing to steady the innings. But skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stitched a good partnership of 193 for the sixth wicket with Dravid to help India to push on to 566-dec with a staggering lead of 373.
After the Indians declared, there was still time for New Zealand to start their fight back. However, after Tim McIntosh was trapped lbw by Harbajhan Singh in the final session, they need their overnight pairing of McCullum and Hopkins to produce a master stroke if they are to avoid an innings defeat.
A major share of India's thanks ought to go to Rahul Dravid whose 31st test century (which was just 9 runs short of a 6th test double hundred) steadied India after their early loss of veterans Tendulkar, Laxman and Suresh Raina. His great innings came to an end when in an uncharacteristic moment he stepped forward and raised Kane Williamson to Martin Guptill at long-off.
Dravid was ably assisted by skipper Dhoni who just missed out on a ton when at 98 he returned Daniel Vettori for a simple catch.
Dravid's dismissal was shortly followed by India declaring, giving the Kiwis 13 overs in the day. The remaining overs saw Harbajhan trap McIntosh for 8 after which New Zealand made 24 till the end of play, requiring 349 runs on day 4 to match India's score.
The Kiwis have a daunting task to avoid defeat in the third and decisive test match in a three match series, after the previous two tests at Ahmedabad and Hyderabad were drawn.