(CNN) -- Test record runs scorer Sachin Tendulkar led the way for India on the first day of the third and final Test in Wellington on Friday, but New Zealand kept alive their hopes of leveling the series.
Tendulkar has proved a major thorn in the side of the Kiwis all series.
India scored quickly at the Basin Reserve, but wickets also fell regularly as they closed on 375 for nine with Ishant Sharma 15 not out and fellow tailender Munaf Patel unbeaten on 14.
Batting maestro Tendulkar was the top scorer with 62, his 53rd Test half-century, while India captain MS Dhoni, back in the side after missing the Test in Napier with a back problem, made 52 and put on a valuable 79-run stand with Harbhajan Singh, who made an entertaining 60.
It boosted India in the final session as they piled up 185 runs off 35 overs for the loss of just four wickets.
New Zealand, who lost the opening Test in Hamilton before having the better of the drawn match in Napier, plugged away all day with paceman Chris Martin leading the way with three wickets.
Recalled Tim Southee chipped in with two as did Iain O'Brien, with James Franklin and Jesse Ryder picking up a wicket apiece.
Martin claimed the prized scalps of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid and then removed Harbhajan late in the day to finish with three for 95 off 24 overs
Tendulkar went past 50 for the 95th time in Tests, striking 11 boundaries and reaching his landmark just after lunch.
But his dismissal brought about a mini-collapse with VVS Laxman and Yuvraj Singh quickly following.
It left India 190 for five at tea, but Dhoni and Harbhajan were in belligerent form in the final session and batted India towards a defendable target.