Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara guided India to 87 for one to leave the first Test against New Zealand at Eden Park delicately poised at the end of a tumultuous third day after their bowlers had given them a faint sniff of victory on Saturday.
India had been bowled out for 202 before lunch but not asked to follow-on before their bowlers dismissed New Zealand for 105 in their second innings in the final session, giving India's batsmen a victory target of 407 runs.
Tim Southee claimed the only wicket to fall in India's second innings when Murali Vijay (13) got a faint touch to a leg-side delivery and wicketkeeper BJ Watling held a diving catch to reduce the visitors to 36 for one.
Dhawan, who had earlier looked like he was trying to slog his way out of a poor run of form, settled down to finish the day on 49 not out while Pujara was on 22 with India needing a further 320 runs in two days to complete a remarkable victory.
"Bit of a bittersweet day," New Zealand pace bowler Neil Wagner told Radio Sport. "It started off really well but it wasn't as ideal as we wanted.
"But I think were pretty happy at this stage. There's still a lot of cricket to play and we still have a lot of runs under our belt.
"We just have to be patient. I still think there are enough runs there for us to play around with, particularly if we bowl well and get a couple of wickets early on we will put them on the back foot."
The ball dominated the bat on Saturday with the drop-in pitch offering seamers both swing and lateral movement if they stuck to a fuller length, with the quicks claiming 16 of the 17 wickets to fall in the day's play.
New Zealand had taken six wickets for 72 runs in the morning session to bowl India before lunch but captain Brendon McCullum did not enforce the follow-on after they scored 503 in their first innings.
McCullum's decision not to enforce the follow-on however will be heavily debated among pundits and armchair critics after his bowlers had their tails up and having bowled 21 overs on the day probably plenty of energy left to carry on.
Wagner, however, said the decision had been the right one.
"I think we were all very happy with that. We all knew at that stage that as a bowling unit it does give you a bit of a chance to have an ice bath, take a rest and get some fresh legs into it and come back later.
"Regardless of what happened, we're still happy with the runs we have on the board.
"It's still a good position to be in and if you gave us this at the start of the game then we would have taken it any day."
The visitors' bowlers learned from their New Zealand counterparts and bowled a much fuller length to spark a remarkable collapse.
Mohammed Shami blasted the top off their batting order with three wickets to reduce the hosts to 25-5 shortly after lunch before Ross Taylor, who scored 41, and Watling, who faced 72 deliveries for 11 runs, provided some resistance.
Ishant Sharma then captured three wickets, including two in the first over after tea, to mop up the innings early in the final session.
Only an entertaining 25-run partnership between Wagner (14) and Trent Boult (seven not out) for the final wicket pushed New Zealand past their lowest test score of 94 against India and the psychological barrier of a lead in excess of 400 runs.
The highest successful fourth innings run chase in New Zealand was the 348 for five West Indies scored in 1969.
Dhawan punches Sodhi down the ground for his fifth boundary while Pujara survives a vociferous appeal for leg before in the last ball of the day as stumps are drawn with India 87-1 in 25 overs chasing a target of 407.
Dhawan is unbeaten on 49 off 70 balls while Pujara is on 22 having faced 61 balls and hit a boundary and a six.
India require another 320 runs with nine wickets in hand and two days remaining.
Pujara whacks a loose delivery from Sodi for a six over midwicket. Ind 77-1 in 22 overs.
Dhawan smashes an attempted yorker from Wagner through mid-on for a boundary. Ind 64-1 in 19 overs.
Pujara hits his first boundary driving Anderson straight down the ground. Ind 56-1 in 15 overs.
Dhawan cuts Wagner through backward point for a boundary to bring up the 50 in the 14th over.
Southee strikes as Vijay is adjudged caught behind as he attempts to tickle a delivery on the leg side. Ind 36-1 in 8 overs.
Murali Vijay c Watling b Southee 13 (21b 2x4 0x6)
Dhawan slams Boult through the covers for another boundary. Ind 30-0 in 6 overs.
Vijay glances Boult to fine leg for another boundary as India are off to a solid start. Ind 24-0 in 5 overs.
Vijay gets his first boundary by glancing Boult to fine leg. Ind 16-0 in 3 overs.
Dhawan hits the first boundary of the innings swinging Southee to square leg and is dropped next ball at short cover by McCullum when he was on seven. Ind 9-0 in 2 overs.
NEW ZEALAND SECOND INNINGS
India's bowlers have given their side a slim chance of winning the first Test on Saturday as they dismissed New Zealand for 105 in the final session of the third day, setting their vaunted batting lineup a victory target of 407.
Ishant Sharma captured three wickets, including two in the first over after tea, to mop up New Zealand's second innings after Mohammed Shami had blasted the top off their batting order with three wickets that reduced the hosts to 25-5.
New Zealand had bowled India out for 202 before lunch but did not enforce the follow-on after they scored 503 in their first innings at Eden Park.
The visitors' bowlers then bowled a much fuller length in New Zealand's second innings to seize the initiative and give their batsmen more than two days to knock off the runs.
India have fought back to skittle New Zealand for 105 but face massive target of 407 in just over two days.
Ishant finished with the best figures of three for 28 after Shami (3 for 37) and Zaheer (2 for 23) caused the initial damage.
Jadeja takes a well judged catch in the deep as Wagner pulls Ishant to be last man out as New Zealand are bowled out for 105 in 41.2 overs.
N Wagner c Jadeja b I Sharma 14 (21b 2x4 0x6)
New Zealand's lead goes past 400 with a couple of byes and a reverse sweep boundary by Boult off Jadeja with Dhoni missing a stumping chance in an eventful over. NZ 105-9 in 41 overs.
Wagner cracks Ishant through the covers for his second boundary. NZ 90-9 in 38 overs.
Wagner smashes Shami back over his head for a boundary. NZ 84-9 in 37 overs.
Double strike by Ishant as Sodhi goes for a duck edging to Rohit at second slip. NZ 80-9 in 35.5 overs.
IS Sodhi c Rohit by Ishant 0 (5b 0x4 0x6)
Ishant strikes in the second ball after tea bowling Watling off an inside edge. NZ 78-8 in 35.2 overs.
BJ Watling b I Sharma 11 (72b 0x4 0x6)
India's pace bowlers have given their side a slim chance of winning the first Test as New Zealand reached 78 for seven at tea on the third day after the visitors had blasted the top off their second innings on Saturday.
Wicketkeeper BJ Watling was on 11 with Ish Sodhi on nought as New Zealand stretched their lead to 379 runs after they had bowled India out for 202 before lunch but did not enforce the follow-on after they scored 503 in their first innings.
Mohammed Shami, bowling a much fuller length, had earlier taken three wickets to reduce the hosts to 25-5 shortly after lunch to give India hope of a remarkable turnaround victory at Eden Park.
Watling and Ross Taylor (41) had settled the carnage before the latter was well caught by Ajinkya Rahane at gully off Zaheer Khan to send New Zealand's last recognised batsman back to the pavilion with the score on 63-6.
The second innings collapse will only give heart to India's vaunted batting lineup, who would feel comfortable chasing down a total of 400 with more than two days to achieve the target.
The bowlers, however, have dominated the day's play with the drop-in pitch offering seamers both swing and lateral movement if they stick to a fuller length, with the quicks claiming 12 of the 13 wickets to fall on Saturday.
India have pegged back New Zealand who are 78-7 at tea in their second innings still enjoying a lead of 379.
The highest winning total in the fourth innings in any Test in New Zealand is West Indies' 348-5 also at Auckland in March 1969.
Jadeja strikes in the last over before tea as Southee hits straight to short midwicket. NZ 78-7 in 34.4 overs.
Tim Southee c Pujara b Jadeja 14 (15b 0x4 1x6)
Southee makes his intentions clears whacking Zaheer for a six. NZ 75-6 in 32 overs.
Rahane at gully takes a brilliant catch to dismiss Taylor who flashes at a wide delivery from Zaheer. NZ 63-6 in 29.4 overs.
Ross Taylor c Rahane b Khan 41 (73b 4x4 1x6)
Ishant attempt to bounce out Taylor backfires as the batsman top edges the first one over Dhoni and sends another short ball flying over fine leg for the first six of the innings. NZ 53-5 in 24 overs.
Spin introduced for the first time after 20 overs with Jadeja coming into the attack replacing Shami who bowled an excellent opening spell returning figures of 10-1-30-3. NZ 38-5 in 21 overs.
Taylor is breaking the shackles of the Indian bowlers flicking Shami uppishly to midwicket for his third boundary. NZ 38-5 in 19 overs.
Taylor drives a rare loose ball from Shami through the covers for his second boundary. NZ 32-5 in 17 overs.
Shami has figures of 7-0-19-3 in his spell either side of the lunch interval. NZ 26-5 in 13 overs.
Shami is on fire claiming his third wicket bowling Anderson neck and crop with a delivery that jagged back in to the left-hander and clipped his leg stump off an inside edge. NZ 25-5 in 12.2 overs.
Corey Anderson b Mohammed Shami 2 (19b 0x4 0x6)
Taylor hits the first boundary of the innings glancing Shami to fine leg. NZ 24-4 in 11 overs.
New Zealand lost four early second innings wickets but still extended their lead to 316 runs at lunch on the third day of the first Test against a resurgent India at Eden Park on Saturday.
Opting not to enforce the follow-on after India collapsed to 202 all out, the hosts were reduced to 15 for four, having lost Peter Fulton (5) and Hamish Rutherford (0) to Mohammed Shami, with Kane Williamson brilliantly caught by Ravindra Jadeja at short midwicket for three off Zaheer Khan.
Captain Brendon McCullum, who was dropped by Murali Vijay in the slips in the final over before lunch, was run out for one after a brilliant throw by Jadeja three balls later.
Ross Taylor went to the break on five not out and will be joined by Corey Anderson when play resumes after the interval.
New Zealand had bowled India out 45 minutes earlier and McCullum may now regret his decision not to ask India to bat again, instead choosing to give his bowlers a rest after they had taken six wickets for 72 runs in an extended first session.
Play had started 30 minutes early to make up for time lost due to bad light on Friday with the visitors resuming on 130-4 and their fortunes resting in the hands of Rohit Sharma (67) and Ajinkya Rahane (23), India's last recognised batsmen.
The pair, however, never looked comfortable and were pushing hard at the ball rather than letting it go through to wicketkeeper BJ Watling as Trent Boult and Tim Southee extracted plenty of swing and seam movement.
That indiscipline led to their downfall as Rahane (26) pushed at a wide Southee delivery and only succeeded in getting a nick to Ross Taylor at first slip to reduce the visitors to 138-5, ending an 87-run partnership.
The visitors' hopes of compiling a competitive total diminished further in the next over when Rohit pushed at a Boult delivery that was going across him and dragged the ball onto his stumps to be bowled for 72.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was next to go when he edged a Neil Wagner delivery to Watling for 10 before the left-armer got Zaheer to nick behind for 14 as India's tail adopted a free-swinging approach to the New Zealand bowlers.
Ishant Sharma was caught by Boult at mid off after trying to hit Southee out of the ground and while Jadeja landed some lusty blows, Wagner wrapped up the innings when Shami edged to Fulton at second slip to finish with figures of 4-64.
New Zealand are in all sorts of trouble as McCullum is run out going for a second in the last over before lunch. NZ 15-4 in 7.4 overs at lunch.
Brendon McCullum run out 1 (2b 0x4 0x6)
McCullum survives on nought as Murali Vijay at first slip dropping a regulation chance off Zaheer.
Jadeja takes a brilliant catch at short midwicket as Williamson fails to keep a inswinger from Zaheer down. NZ 11-3 in 5.5 overs.
Kane Williamson c Jadeja b Khan 3 (17b 0x4 0x6)
Shami has struck in successive overs as Fulton goes driving straight to short over. NZ 9-2 in 3 overs.
Peter Fulton c Jadeja b Mohammed Shami 5 (11b 0x4 0x6)
Shami strikes in the first over squaring up Rutherford and trapping him for a first-ball duck. NZ 1-1 in 1 over.
Hamish Rutherford lbw b Mohammed Shami 0 (1b 0x4 0x6)
INDIA FIRST INNINGS
New Zealand are not enforcing the follow-on despite enjoying a lead of 301 after bowling out India for 202.
"A heart transplant. That's what India need," says Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar. "They didn't show any heart. Any gumption."
Having resumed on 130-4, India lost their last six wickets for the addition of 72 runs in 21 overs in just over an hour's play.
Wagner finishes with figures of four for 64, including a spell of 4-0-18-3 in the morning, while Southee claims three for 38.
Jadea was unbeaten on 30 off 44 balls hitting two boundaries and a six.
Wagner claims his third wicket of the morning as last man Shami edge to Fulton at slip to bowl out India for 202 in 60 overs.
Mohammed Shami c Fulton b Wagner 2 (3b 0x4 0x6)
Jadeja smacks Wagner over long-off into the stands to bring up the 200 of the India innings in the 60th over.
Jadeja hits his second boundary pulling a bouncer from Southee through mid-on. Ind 194-9 in 59 overs.
Ishant does not last long holing out to Boult at midoff. Ind 188-9 in 58.2 overs.
Ishant Sharma c Boult b Southee 0 (3b 0x4 0x6)
Ishant survives as Hamish Rutherfod fails to hang onto a bat-pad chance first ball.
Zaheer falls to Wagner's short pitched barrage playing a horrible shot to be caught behind. Ind 188-8 in 57.4 overs.
Zaheer Khan c Watling b Wagner 14 (16b 3x4 0x6)
Zaheer hits his third boundary with an uppish drive over point off Anderson. Ind 185-7 in 57 overs.
New Zealand have dominated the first hour of play as India lost three wickets for 47 runs in 17 overs having resumed on 130-4.
Zaheer cracks Anderson through the covers for another boundary. Ind 176-7 iin 55 overs.
Zaheer opens his account with a lovely square drive off Watling. Ind 171-7 in 54 overs.
Wagner strikes with his fourth delivery of the morning getting the outside edge of Dhoni who hangs his bat out for Watling to get a good low catch. Ind 167-7 in 53.4 overs.
MS Dhoni c Watling b Wagner 10 (28b 1x4 0x6)
Dhoni gets a streaky boundary edging Anderson through the keeper and slip. Ind 165-6 in 53 overs.
Jadeja hit the first boundary of the morning edging Boult through point. Ind 150-6 in 50 overs.
India have been rattled by the double strike as they bid to avoid the follow-on.
Rohit follows Rahane back to the pavilion in the next over from Boult being bowled by an inside edge. Ind 138-5 in 45.1 overs.
Rohit Sharma b Boult 72 (120b 8x4 1x6)
Southee strikes in the fifth over of the day as Rahane edges to Taylor at slip. Ind 138-5 in 44.1 overs.
Ajinkya Rahane c Taylor b Southee 26 (70b 2x4 0x6)
Southee and Boult open with a maiden each to overnight batsman Rohit and Rahane.
India resumed on 130-4 on day three of the first Test against New Zealand in reply to 503 at Eden Park on Saturday.