Consolidating is as important as creating openings and India achieved almost all that they could to strengthen their position on Day II of the final Test against New Zealand.
They had to snip off the New Zealand tail when play began, get a good start and then proceed towards a big total to put pressure on the visitors. The first two missions were accomplished without hassle and with a lead of 99 runs and eight wickets in hand, India are two sessions away from batting New Zealand out of the match.
Such a good day in office follows some good individual performances. Virender Sehwag's opening blast stood out for the impact it made and Sachin Tendulkar's unbeaten 57 assumed special proportions for the momentousness of what it promised.
India's drive to take a significant lead on Day III is bound to get buried under the prospects of Tendulkar's 50th Test century and the master looked determined to get it. New Zealand tried to unsettle him with short-pitched deliveries but Tendulkar was unruffled, offering no shot, even if it meant taking the ball on his body.
Ishant Sharma put India on track in the fourth over of the day when he removed Brendon McCullum. The bounce was more than what the danger man expected and he paid for trying to cut a ball too close to his body. Ishant got one more to finish with four for 43, the best figures for India in this series. The last three New Zealand wickets were claimed in under an hour.
Sehwag scattered New Zealand's hopes of making the new ball talk by sending it to different parts of the ground.
The plan against him was to bowl short and after being knocked on the knuckles early on by Chris Martin, Sehwag pulled him out of sight.
The bowler was hit over slips after he changed line and when Daniel Vettori introduced himself in the 10th over, Sehwag lifted him over long-on. Vettori took his revenge after lunch.
Surviving what would have been an extraordinary catch at forward short-leg, Gautam Gambhir played himself in. He was timing the ball beautifully before a loose shot off a short and wide ball resulted in a catch at a wide first slip.
Working quietly, Rahul Dravid featured in two key partnerships. How well he continues to do that will play a big role in India's immediate task of negotiating the second new ball. Rahul Dravid joins elite club