New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori's decision to bat first misfired when the Indian bowlers ripped through the top order to wrest control in the deciding third cricket Test at Nagpur.
Seamers Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Ishant Sharma and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha picked up two wickets each to reduce New Zealand to 148 for seven.
Brendon McCullum's not out 34 and Tim Southee seven at the crease at the close of the shortened day, marred by a wet outfield that delayed the start of play by three hours.
Jesse Ryder put on a vital 42-run partnership for the seventh wicket with McCullum, Ryder's 59 coming as the big Wellington batsman limped throughout his innings after aggravating a calf injury.
The Black Caps gambled by including McCullum, who injured himself during his warm-up, hoping that the last Test's double centurion could bat in the middle order.
McCullum, who had opened in the last two matches, walked in at number eight and New Zealand's hopes for a sizeable first-innings total will firmly rest on him.