Dravid ton drives India forward
Rahul Dravid’s 36th Test century helped put India in a strong position at stumps on the opening day of the second Test against West Indies.
Dravid made 119 and an unbeaten 73 from VVS Laxman plus Gautam Gambhir’s 65 helped India, leading 1-0 in the three-Test series, close on 346 for five at Kolkata's Eden Gardens.
It might have been even better for the hosts but they lost Dravid and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma for a duck in the last two overs as West Indies enjoyed a morale-boosting end to a tough day in the field.
Dravid’s century was his fourth in his last six Tests, but while reaching three figures has not been a problem for the 38-year-old recently, it has not been the same story for Sachin Tendulkar.
The ‘Little Master’ has remained stuck on 99 international tons since the World Cup, and his wait to reach the unprecedented milestone continues after he fell for 38 in the afternoon session.
India made an impressive start after captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss in perfect batting conditions, with Virender Sehwag in typically aggressive mood as he and Gambhir brought up their fifty partnership inside the 11th over.
Sehwag had moved on to 38 from 32 balls when he became the first India wicket to fall, driving Darren Sammy - whose first three overs had gone for 29 - straight to short midwicket where Adrian Barath took a neat low catch.
Dravid made a fluent start, taking two from his first ball and guiding his third to the third-man boundary before taking three more fours from Sammy's next two overs.
Gambhir reached his half-century, his first against West Indies, with a leg-side single off Marlon Samuels from his 78th delivery.
However, the opener failed to turn that into three figures, falling in disappointing fashion when he slashed a Fidel Edwards delivery straight to Barath at short cover.
That dismissal brought Tendulkar to the crease and the 38-year-old began in steady fashion as he helped Dravid put on 56 for the third wicket.
However just before the tea interval, Tendulkar was caught by Samuels at midwicket off Devendra Bishoo.
Despite the dismissal, India still held the upper hand and they cruised past 300 during a fourth-wicket stand of 140 between Dravid and Laxman.
The experienced duo looked set to see India through to the close, but Dravid was left fuming with himself after playing on to part-time spinner Kraigg Brathwaite in the penultimate over of the day, having struck nine fours and two sixes in a 207-ball knock.
That was the teenager’s first Test wicket, and left Dravid 21 short of becoming only the second player after Tendulkar to reach 13,000 Test runs.
The visitors took the new ball straight after Dravid’s dismissal and they got another breakthrough almost immediately when Ishant edged a rising first ball from Kemar Roach to gloveman Carlton Baugh, a wicket that proved to be the last action of the day.