The `Little Master' overshadowed New Zealand's cricket's cult hero as India zeroed in on a one-day series win with a ruthless record-setting 58-run victory in game three at AMI Stadium.
Sachin Tendulkar's long overdue first ODI century on New Zealand soil eclipsed Jesse Ryder's maiden limited overs hundred as the Indians applied a stranglehold on the five-match series.
Set a mammoth 393 for victory after India blitzed 392 for four, the highest ODI score made against New Zealand. The BLACKCAPS suffered a middle order collapse before an 89-run stand for the ninth wicket between Kyle Mills (54) and Tim Southee (32) at least prevented a rout.
Southee was last out when the score was 334, a ball after an eventful over which saw Munaf Patel reprimanded by umpire Rudi Koetzen for bowling two waist-high full tosses.
New Zealand must now regroup and win the remaining matches in Hamilton and Auckland to share the spoils 2-2 and avoid their first series loss at home since Australia triumphed in 2005.
Tendulkar's majestic 163 provided the cornerstone of an Indian batting effort that pulverised New Zealand's attack.
The BLACKCAPS made a bold start to an onerous task, but when Brendon McCullum was run out for 71, an ambitious pursuit faltered.
McCullum's demise after he and Ryder crunched an opening stand worth 166 triggered an implosion that saw five wickets lost for 37 in the space of 53 balls.
Ross Taylor (7) also succumbed to sharp fielding in the circle; Martin Guptill was leg before wicket for one; Ryder's resistance ended with 105 from 80 balls and then all hope was lost when the last big hitter, Jacob Oram (7), was flummoxed by a resurgent Harbhajan Singh.
Harbhajan's first two overs cost 29 but the spinner atoned when Ryder chipped to long-off to leave New Zealand in dire straits at 188 for four.
Ryder at least had the satisfaction of recording a welcome personal milestone by overhauling his previous personal best -- 79 not out against England at Hamilton last season.
He struck 72 runs in boundaries, flourishing the bat when gliding a single to make triple figures off 72 balls.
When Ryder was in tandem with McCullum, New Zealand were ahead of India's comparison at the 15 and 20-over marks, but when the stand-in skipper was beaten by Suresh Raina's pin point throw, the run-rate started spiralling.
Tendulkar, on his seventh and surely last tour to New Zealand, earlier erased a rare shortcoming from his stellar statistics with a sumptuous innings ultimately ended by an abdominal strain.
The 35-year-old had never made a hundred in 17 previous innings here, with 84 at Carisbrook back in 1992 his best until he joined a concerted plunder of a New Zealand attack missing absentee expectant father Daniel Vettori.
Tendulkar's 133-ball master class contained 10 classical boundaries, five sixes and culminated in a standing ovation when he walked off with the team physio at the end of the 45th over.
He was 23 runs short of his career-best score, 186 not out also culled from New Zealand at Hyderabad a decade ago.
That sparkling innings dovetailed with the previous biggest innings made against New Zealand -- 376 for two.
Southee unfortunately recorded an unwanted hundred -- the most expensive bowling spell in New Zealand ODI history after his ten unrewarded overs cost 105.
Tendulkar complemented his personal achievement by figuring in 100-plus stands with Yuvraj Singh and then captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The trio brutally compensated for a rare failure by dangerous opener Virender Sehwag who made only three before Kyle Mills celebrated his 100th ODI in timely fashion.
Yuvraj, who previously made two runs in the series, flayed an undermanned attack with Sehwag-like precision in making a rapid fire 87 from 60 deliveries.
It took 18.4 overs for the first six, but once Yuvraj opened his shoulders the boundaries were cleared with ridiculous ease. In all, 18 sixes were recorded -- equalling most struck in an ODI innings.
Tendulkar and Yuvraj produced 138 from 110 balls then Dhoni maintained the rage with 68 from 58 though he should have been stumped for five -- a glaring and costly miss by McCullum's stand-in Peter McGlashan.
Tendulkar and Dhoni added 135 before Tendulkar wandered off -- then to add insult to injury Raina smacked five sixes from an 18-ball cameo worth 38.