Iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar kept his emotions in check and showed his genius for one last time in front of adoring fans with an unbeaten 38 as India seized early control of his 200th and final cricket Test against the West Indies after a disciplined bowling display here today.
The 40-year-old maestro walked in to the middle amid thundering cheers from the crowd and a guard of honour from his West Indies rivals as he showed glimpses of his vintage form to remain unconquered at close of an eventful opening day of his last Test.
At stumps, India were comfortably placed at 157 for two after bundling out the hapless West Indies for a meagre 182 by tea, riding on left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha's five-wicket haul.
While Ojha (5/40) grabbed the spotlight in the first half of the day, it was the retiring legend, who held centrestage in the last session with his entire family and childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar watching from the stands.
It was an abysmal batting display by the West Indians after being put in by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The Caribbeans lost eight wickets for just 89 runs in a single session much to the delight of the Wankhede crowd.
India responded strongly with openers Murali Vijay (43) and Shikhar Dhawan (33) putting on 77 runs in quick time. The two were sent back by Shane Shillingford before Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara (34) took control of the proceedings.
India, leading 1-0 after winning the first Test in Kolkata inside three days, were just 25 runs behind West Indies at close of play raising doubts whether the match will go the full distance.
Earlier, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha grabbed a five-wicket haul as a disciplined effort from Indian bowlers backed by some pathetic West Indian batting saw the visitors bundled out for a paltry 182 at tea on the first day of Sachin Tendulkar's farewell Test match being played here
West Indies batsmen were visibly uncomfortable against both pace and swing of Shami Ahmed and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and also looked clueless against spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha losing eight wickets for 89 runs in a single session.
Ojha, who was a bit unlucky in the first Test, was pick of the Indian bowlers grabbing five for 40 in 11.2 overs while Ashwin, who completed 100 wickets in Tests, had figures of three for 45 in 15 overs to show for his efforts.
Mohammed Shami (1/36) and Bhuvneshar Kumar (1/45) may not have got too many wickets but they created the initial pressure which helped the spinners to get on top of the opposition. .
Shami Opener Keiran Powell (48) was the top-scorer as most of the other batsmen found it difficult to survive even for 20 minutes. It looks highly unlikely that the match will last the distance as the West Indian batsmen would find it even more difficult to survive on a wearing track on the third day having played only 55.2 overs on the opening day.
Having lost a couple of wickets in the first session, an inept Caribbean batting line-up looked out of sorts in the post-lunch session on a dry Wankhede track, that had both turn and bounce on offer.
The likes of Marlon Samuels, Narsingh Deonarine, Darren Sammy simply failed miserably to grind it out against Ojha and Ashwin as wickets fell at regular intervals. The manner in which Sammy (0) threw his wicket would raise questions about his position in the Test squad. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (25), playing his 150th Test match, started off with a big six but was removed by Bhuvneshwar with a nice away going delivery that was snapped up in the slips.
Marlon Samuels (19) looked uncomfortable against Shami's swing and finally caved in when he edged one to Murali Vijay in the slips of an Ojha delivery that turned away. Shami started off from where he left at the Eden Gardens, during his dream debut as he bowled at a brisk pace moving the ball away from the left hander. He did beat the bats of Gayle and Powell before removing the big Jamaican with a well crafted plan. Having bowled a couple of full length deliveries, Shami bowled one that just kicked up from short of good length as Gayle got squared up in his bid to defend. The ball lobbed up after taking a leading edge as Rohit completed the formalities at point.
Gayle's poor show in the series continued having failed in both innings at Kolkata. He now has scores of 18, 33 and 11 from three innings of this ongoing Test series. He didn't look like trying to play his natural game which is to take on the opposition attack. He looked rusty and unusually bogged down. It seemed playing too many T20 matches has taken a toll on Gayle-the Test batsman.
Bravo was in trouble as soon as he arrived edging an away going delivery to first slip but the ball dropped in front of Ashwin, who was manning the zone. In between some very good deliveries, both Bravo and Powell dispatched the loose deliveries to the boundary. Anything that drifted onto the pads was tucked away on the leg side while Bravo hit some good shot on the off-side region. Ashwin had a rough time in the first slip, when he dropped a sitter off Bhuvneshwar Kumar's delivery with Powell batting on 21.
Bhuvneshwar was brought from Garware End, having bowled his first spell from the North End. He bowled a beauty that moved away from Powell, who gave a regulation catch which bounced off Ashwin's palm.
To add insult to injury, Ashwin, who was brought into the attack was hoisted for couple of big sixes by Bravo and Powell. Especially Bravo using his feet to loft Ashwin inside-out over cover was a treat to watch. The 50 runs for the second wicket partnership came off 96 balls.