Having dominated from the front at Kingston, New Zealand now require a great escape at Port-of-Spain after being outplayed by West Indies for a second successive day.
Led by centuries from 21-year-old opener Kraigg Brathwaite and a rejuvenated Darren Bravo, West Indies ended day two with a stranglehold on the second cricket test, leading by 89 at 310-5.
New Zealand's soft first day collapse - all out for 221 - was put in context by a home side who weathered an early and late examination from pace duo Tim Southee and Trent Boult then counter-attacked and savaged the supporting cast.
West Indies batting kingpin Shivnarine Chanderpaul would resume on day three, having survived a confident late caught behind shout from Southee who had a luckless day.
There were few terrors in a slightly variable Queen's Park Oval pitch, and the Black Caps must now hope it holds together and they can produce a vastly improved and disciplined second innings to save this test and maintain their 1-0 series lead heading to Barbados.
The West Indies batting was a laughing stock after their dual collapses on a turning pitch at Kingston, Jamaica.
Their selectors acted swiftly, axing Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels and recalling Brathwaite for his 11th test, with an average of 21.84 and highest score of 68.
He became the batting anchor while Kirk Edwards (55) and Bravo (109) did the scoreboard damage.
The rookie backup bowlers Mark Craig (0-81 off 19), Ish Sodhi (1-57 off 12)and Jimmy Neesham (0-59 off 10) all suffered from a targeted attack and left the tourists probably regretting they'd omitted the reliable Neil Wagner.
West Indies had dropped spinner Shane Shillingford and played three frontline pacemen of their own.
Southee was the pick again with a probing opening spell where he thought he'd removed Brathwaite in the day's first over. New Zealand challenged a confident lbw appeal that was turned down, and replays showed the ball just clipping the stumps so the decision stood.
The ball swung for Southee and Boult, but the hosts were far more disciplined, waiting for the frontliners to take a rest.
It was some fall for Craig, coming off a man-of-the-match eight-wicket haul on debut, who was in the sights of the home batsmen and never got time to settle.
It wasn't turning as much and they hit Craig off his lengths; Edwards clouting three sixes in his brisk 64-ball knock that got the innings rolling.
Leg-spinner Sodhi struck with his third ball, nicking out Edwards, but he also fell apart later on as Bravo hit his straps.
The left-hander had five test centuries to his name, but none in the Caribbean. New Zealand's bowlers knew what he could do, having watched him plunder 218 in Dunedin in December with a style skin to his mentor, Brian Lara. Since that knock he'd managed 16 runs from four test innings against New Zealand.
It was a rollicking innings, a 128-ball century which he celebrated by running halfway to the Lara Pavilion and punching the air like he'd scored a World Cup goal. He was severe on Sodhi, hitting two huge sixes in one over and clearing the rope four times in all.
Part-timer Kane Williamson finally removed him, breaking a 182-run fourth wicket stand.
Brathwaite's ungainly technique, scoring mainly through the on-side, was effective and he raised three figures off 199 balls. How New Zealand would have liked topscorer Tom Latham to kick on in such a fashion, and receive similar support.
Boult finally removed Brathwaite for 129, caught and bowled in the late gloom, ending a 378-minute epic that may have set the hosts up for a series-levelling victory.
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?