KOLKATA, India // Rahul Dravid made the most of superb batting conditions at Eden Gardens to post his 36th Test hundred and put India in charge after the first day of the second Test against West Indies on Monday.
The hosts, after opting to bat first, were 346 for five at the close with Vangipurappu Laxman 73 not out after the umpires decided to suspend play due to bad light with 2.3 overs left in the day.
Dravid (119), rock solid in defence as usual, brought up his fifth Test hundred of the year with a flicked boundary to square leg off paceman Kemar Roach to a standing ovation from the sparse crowd.
"It obviously feels that I am in some good form... I have hit a good patch. I am in a good space with my game so I am really trying to make it count, trying to make it last as long as I can," Dravid told reporters.
"I have been through tough times so I know very well when things are going well, you have to make the most of it... I am just trying to do that."
He was ready to wait for the loose deliveries and hit nine fours and two sixes during his 207-ball stay before he chopped on part-time spinner Kraigg Brathwaite to gift the 18 year old his first test wicket in the penultimate over of the day.
Dravid's first six off leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo came after a gap of 101 balls from his previous boundary and the second six off Marlon Samuels came after he had got past his century.
The 38 year old Dravid added 140 runs for the fourth wicket with Laxman, which put India on course for a big first innings total.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson, whose side lost the first Test, was confident that the visitors could still bounce back on Tuesday.
"It was a tough day for us because there was nothing in the pitch for the bowlers," Gibson said. "Both teams are capable of collapsing as we saw in Delhi [last Test] and we are hoping something like that happens here too."
Dravid appeared upset with himself when he walked back to the dressing room in fading light amid applause from an appreciative crowd.
"I was a little disappointed... I batted the whole day and I wanted to start fresh tomorrow [on Tuesday]," Dravid said.
"It would have been nice to play the new ball... I thought the first 10-15 overs tomorrow will be vital... So, I wanted to start together."
Laxman also looked in supreme touch and scored at will against the West Indies spinners with wristy flicks and drives to bring up his 56th half-century in Tests.
India earlier lost the wickets of Gautam Gambhir (65) and Sachin Tendulkar (38), whose wait for his 100th international century goes on, in the afternoon session after opener Virender Sehwag (38) fell in the morning.
Sehwag, hit by an Edwards bouncer on the back of his helmet in the third over, took a particular liking to Darren Sammy's medium pace bowling, scoring six out of his eight boundaries against the West Indies captain.
However, Sammy had the last laugh when he lured Sehwag into a mistimed drive straight into the hands of Adrian Barath at short mid-wicket after the batsman had compiled a breezy 38 off 33 deliveries.
Gambhir and Dravid added 83 for the second wicket before the left-handed opener drove uppishly to Barath at short cover off paceman Fidel Edwards.
Gambhir hit eight boundaries during his knock which included some fluent cover drives against the pacemen and nimble footwork against the spinners.
Tendulkar, who survived a close lbw appeal on 25 against leg-spinner Bishoo, mistimed a pull against the same bowler and was caught at mid-wicket by Samuels, much to the disappointment of the smattering of fans.
India first innings
G. Gambhir c Barath b Edwards 65
V. Sehwag c Barath b Sammy 38
R. Dravid b Brathwaite 119
S. Tendulkar c Samuels b Bishoo 38
VVS Laxman not out 73
I. Sharma c Baugh b Roach 0
Extras (lb 5, w 2, nb 6) 13
Total (five wickets; 87.3 overs) 346
To bat: Y. Singh, MS Dhoni, R. Ashwin, P. Ojha
Fall of wicket: 1-66 2-149 3-205 4-345 5-346
Bowling: Edwards 13-0-45-1 (1nb), Sammy 14-0-78-1 (1w), Roach 15.3-1-57-1 (4nb, 1w), Samuels 16-0-65-0, Bishoo 27-1-87-1 (1nb), Brathwaite 2-0-9-1