Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja produced magnificent late onslaught after opener Rohit Sharma scored a half-century, to help India post 278 for five in the fourth one-dayer against New Zealand here on Tuesday.
The visitors lost their top order quickly, but Rohit rebuilt the innings with a 94-ball 79, before Dhoni (79 not out) and Jadeja (62 not out) put on a fighting 127-run stand for the unbroken sixth wicket to set a target of 279 for the Kiwis in what is a must-win game for India to keep the series alive.
India are trailing 0-2 after losing the first two ODIs and tying the third game in this five-match series.
For the hosts, Tim Southee (2 for 36) was the pick of the bowlers, while Kyle Mills (1 for 42) provided an able support.
Kane Williamson (1/26) and Hamish Bennett (1/67), too, picked up wicket apiece but the latter was very expensive.
Earlier, Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat, a change from the team's usual policy in the first three ODIs on this tour. They also made two changes, dropping both Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, and bringing in Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny, who was handed his first ODI cap.
In the absence of Dhawan, Virat Kohli came out to open the innings with Rohit Sharma. India got off to a very slow start as the Black Caps kept a tight leash and runs only came in a trickle.
In the fourth over with only five runs on the board, Kohli (2) got frustrated by this non-scoring and went after a short delivery from Southee, mistiming his pull to be caught at mid-wicket by Neesham.
Ajinkya Rahane (3), too, moved up the order, coming in at number three, and he also became a victim of runs-not-flowing.
He pulled straight to Southee at fine-leg off Mills.
Rohit took his time settling in but he was lucky to have survived a couple of dropped chances.