Sachin Tendulkar created history by becoming the highest century-getter as India laid the foundation for a mammoth first innings total in the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Feroze Shah Kotla today.
Tendulkar cracked an unbeaten 100 for his record 35th hundred, the most in Test cricket, as India reached a strong 245 for three at stumps on the opening day.
Tendulkar's seventh ton against the visitors saw him surpass former captain and compatriot Sunil Gavaskar's tally of 34 for the most number of hundreds in the all-time centurions' list.
Saurav Ganguly was batting on 39 at the other end after playing the supporting role to Tendulkar to perfection.
It was also Tendulkar's 125th Test appearance, again matching Gavaskar and the second highest for an Indian. Only Kapil Dev had played in more Tests, 131.
Tendulkar's innings helped India seize the initiative after skipper Rahul Dravid, suffering from illness, made a bold decision to open the innings in the absence of Virendra Sehwag who was down with a throat infection.
Tendulkar reached his century with a single off a Chaminda Vaas delivery.
His three figure mark came from 177 balls after 277 minutes at the crease, and contained 13 fours and a six.
Tendulkar was somewhat circumspect in the initial phase of his innings and had to endure a testing spell of reverse swing bowling by Dilhara Fernando.
There were a couple of loud leg before shouts against Tendulkar and he was hit on the chest when the little master tried to duck to a short pitched delivery that kept low. But he middled the ball well from the outset. Tendulkar employed the paddle sweep to the spinners, a shot that he had buried deep into the kit bag for long.
Later, when the pitch dried out and batting became more relaxed in the afternoon, he began to play his strokes.
Tendulkar notched up his half century with a nudge to square-leg off Muthiah Muralitharan and then proceeded to strike three consecutive fours off the off-spinner.
He took a volley from around the wicket on the rise and placed it between mid-off and cover, then glided the next one to third man before driving the following one on the back foot through cover.
Behind the composed batting was a burning intensity which was on display when he showed his disapproval when Ganguly turned down a third run.
A six-over long-on off Malinga Bandara saw Tendulkar move into the 80s. A leg glance off Vaas saw him move from 93 to 97, and after an outside edge off Fernando fell short of first slip, Tendulkar reached the milestone in the next over from Vaas and threw up his arms and punched the air in elation.
Ganguly survived a stumping chance on 11 but settled down quickly to play the support role to Tendulkar.
A cover drive off Vaas showed his good timing, and he was also able to pick a short pitched one from Fernando to displace it to mid-wicket.
The foundation was set by V V S Laxman, though. From the moment he replaced Gautam Gambhir, out leg before in the very first over of the match, Laxman was in fine nick. The Hyderabadi's fluent strokemaking relieved the pressure on captain Dravid, who opened the innings.
It was only the fifth match Dravid was batting at the top, the last time being four years ago at Bloemfontein on the tour of South Africa, incidentally when Sehwag made his debut.
Laxman batted 175 minutes and faced 117 balls for his 69 that contained 12 fours. He shared two half century partnerships, 54 with the skipper for the second wicket, and 77 with Tendulkar for the third.
On a typical Kotla wicket, where the ball stopped and came off the pitch, Laxman timed the ball to perfection.
Dravid brought the first boundary of the innings with a straight drive to long off while Laxman's first boundary was an inside edge to third man fence, both off Vaas.
But Laxman soon showed his class with two elegant fours off Vaas two overs later. A square cut in the next over of the same bowler pointed to the batsman's top form.
Skipper Marvan Atapattu then turned to his leading bowler Muralitharan for a breakthrough and the offie struck soon.
Dravid swept Muralitharan for a four to fine-leg but then succumbed to the wily off-spinner with an inside edge to forward shortleg. Dravid's 24 came from 43 balls with five fours.