Harbhajan Singh continued his rich vein of batting form to power India into a first-innings lead of 86 by stumps on day three against New Zealand in Hyderabad.
Fresh from his maiden Test century in the drawn series opener, Harbhajan reached 85 not out as India closed on 436-9 in reply to New Zealand's 350 all out.
Resuming on 178-2, India lost Sachin Tendulkar (13) in the fifth over of the day when he gave Daniel Vettori the charge but only succeeded in edging to slip Ross Taylor, who plucked a superb one-handed catch.
Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, playing a Test on his home ground for the first time, stood firm either side of lunch with a 75-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Dravid departed lbw to Tim Southee (3-95) for a painstaking 45 but Laxman, who went to his 48th Test half-century from 130 deliveries, and Suresh Raina added 52 for the fifth wicket as India closed in on first-innings parity.
Black Caps skipper Vettori struck again to remove Raina (20) shortly before tea and, after the interval, India collapsed from 323-5 to 367-9.
Laxman was lbw to Chris Martin (1-87) for 74 much to the dismay of the locals, Vettori (4-123) bagged the scalp of opposite number Dhoni (14) and tail-enders Zaheer Khan (7) and Pragyan Ojha (0) did not hang around long.
But Harbhajan's aggression paid dividend as he dispatched three sixes in racing to 50 from 42 balls.
And, with only last man Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (14no) for company, he added another two maximums to move within sight of back-to-back Test hundreds - having not scored one during the first 86 matches of his career.
The 10th-wicket pair had combined for an unbroken 69 by the close with Harbahajan's 82-ball contribution featuring seven fours in addition to the five sixes.