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India reaches 438 to open commanding lead over New Zealand in 2nd day of 2nd test

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Ajinkya Rahane made a maiden test century and Shikhar Dhawan nearly added a second as India built a 246-run first innings lead on Saturday to seize control of the second cricket test against New Zealand on the second day.

Rahane was out for 118, surpassing his previous best test score of 96, and Dhawan fell two runs short of back-to-back centuries against New Zealand as the visitors made 438 in their first innings in reply to the hosts' 192.

New Zealand leads the two-match series 1-0 after winning the first test at Auckland by 40 runs, but India's performance on Saturday gives the visitors a good opportunity to draw level.

The loss of opener Peter Fulton before stumps, trapped lbw for 1 by Zaheer Khan, further strengthened India's position and left New Zealand struggling to save the test with three days remaining.

New Zealand was 24-1 after nine overs in the second innings. Hamish Rutherford was 18 not out and Kane Williamson 4 not out at stumps.

India resumed Saturday at 100-2, with Dhawan 71 not out, and was able to assume control of the match thanks to a pitch that had been baked by the sun and lost some of its menace from the day before when New Zealand batted. The hosts were all out for 192 in 53 overs on Friday.

Dhawan, who had a century in the first test at Auckland, held together the top half of the innings and Rahane the bottom half, in partnerships of 120 with Dhoni, 37 with Ravindra Jadeja (26) and 38 with Khan (22).

The new ball pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, who combined to take 50 wickets in three tests earlier this summer against the West Indies and in the first test against India, failed to replicate their earlier form. Southee took 3-93 and Boult was 3-99.

"It was a pretty long day and a tough test on what's become a pretty good surface," Boult said. "We're a little bit disappointed as a group."

India suffered just one minor setback on Saturday, slipping from 141-2 to 165-5 before lunch. Dhawan was out for 98 during that period, caught by wicketkeeper BJ Watling off Southee.

But Rahane and Dhoni then combined in the critical partnership of the innings, adding 120 for the seventh wicket.

Dhoni took his 68 runs from 86 balls with nine fours and a six and Rahane reached his first century in tests from 149 balls with 15 fours. He showed no nerves in the 90s, going from 96 to his century with a firmly-hit boundary.

"Rahane and Dhoni started to push it just before the new ball and we knew they were going to come hard when we took it," Boult said. "That partnership between them just sort of race up on us."

"We've got a big challenge ahead of us over the next two or three days," he added.

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