VVS Laxman and Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit contrasting centuries at Eden Gardens on Tuesday to leave the West Indies with a mountain to climb in the second Test. Young pacer Umesh Yadav and off-spinner R Ashwin followed up with a wicket each late on Day 2 before bad light brought the visitors early relief.
Resuming on 34 for two in response to India's first-innings total of 631 for seven declared, the West Indies may require more help from the weather between Wednesday and Friday if they are to save the match and go to Mumbai with a chance to square the series in the third Test.
Bad light ensured 12 overs were lost on Tuesday, but Day 3 will start 30 minutes early - at 8.30am - to make up for some part of it. The pitch has little pace and not much bounce, but Ishant Sharma and Yadav will get to use the morning conditions longer. And with Ashwin and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha already getting some turn, it will be a tough test for the West Indies.
"Usually, when you think about such a big total you are going to go, 'Wow, that's going to be difficult.' But you assess the situation and tell yourself we can do it yourself too," said West Indies manager Richie Richardson.
Out-batting the opponents
VVS Laxman not only bats well at the Eden, but he bats well in partnerships. Every time he has returned to Kolkata in the past 10 years, people remind him of his 281 against Australia and the match-turning partnership with Rahul Dravid. The Laxman and Dhoni show at the Eden, on the other hand, is all about batting the opposition out of the match.
The India captain got two respites early, caught behind off no-balls delivered by Kemar Roach, and made the West Indies pay for the mistakes. At certain times, he danced down the track to hit the medium-pace of his opposite number, Darren Sammy, out of the park.
Laxman's unbeaten 176 off 280 balls with 12 fours took his aggregate at the Eden to 1217 runs in 10 matches with five centuries, the same as Mohammad Azharuddin. He was as assured in attack and defence as he was on Day 1. He never needed to accelerate, yet scored his runs at a strike rate of 62.85.
Spare a thought for Yuvraj Singh. His uncomfortable innings against the second new ball was cut short by a marginal decision. With India unlikely to bat again in this Test, Yuvraj's return to form, like Sachin Tendulkar's 100th Test century, must wait.
Rahane released to play Ranji
Mumbai: India's team management released reserve batsman Ajinkya Rahane for Mumbai's Ranji Trophy Super League tie against Karnataka, in Mumbai on Thursday, after the Mumbai Cricket Association requested.