Centuries from Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag put India high in the saddle at the end of Day 1 in the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Green Park stadium, in Kanpur, on Tuesday.
The day belonged to the Indian batsmen, who amassed 417 for 2 in 90 overs, the hosts' highest tally in a single day in Test cricket.
Sehwag, dropped in the first over without scoring, cut loose after a slow start once the spinners were brought on. He smashed 131, inclusive of 18 boundaries and two sixes off 122 deliveries, before he was caught by Tillakaratne Dilshan off Muttiah Muralitharan.
Gambhir started off positively, and settled down to play a splendid innings of 167, his second straight century in the series and fourth in his last four Tests. He hit 15 boundaries in his 215-ball stay at the wicket before he was brilliantly caught and bowled by Muralitharan.
The two Delhi openers shred the Sri Lankan attack to pieces in an attacking partnership of 233 runs in 251 deliveries for the first wicket.
After Sehwag's exit, Gambhir and Dravid ensured India maintained the momentum in a 137-run stand for the second wicket.
At stumps, Dravid was unbeaten on 85 from 153 deliveries, inclusive of eight boundaries, while Sachin Tendulkar was content to play out time in a patient 20 from 53 deliveries.
Morning session: (26 overs, 131 runs)
India, electing to bat made a couple of changes, bringing in S Sreesanth in place of fellow-pacer Ishant Sharma, while the out-of-form Amit Mishra made way for debutant left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.
Sri Lanka included an extra spinner in Ajantha Mendis, who replaced injured pacer Dammika Prasad.
Sehwag (0) got a lifeline as early as the first over of the match. He tried to drive Chanaka Welegedara through the off-side but got an edge that was dropped by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip, as wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, diving full length to his right, put him off.
Gautam Gambhir got India's first boundary in the third over of the innings when his thick edge went between the slips and gully fielder off Welegedara.
It was turning out to be a nervy start for Sehwag, as he survived a huge appeal for leg before wicket against Angelo Mathews in the sixth over as the ball hit him on the leg stump and was drifting further.
While Sehwag was struggling to find his footing, Gambhir seemed in good touch from the start. He drove a wide delivery from Welegedara through the off-side for his third boundary, in the seventh over.
The ball was hitting Sehwag's pads more than his bat and he once again survived a leg before appeal. Welegedara's incoming delivery struck him on the pads before hitting the bat -- similar to his dismissal in the first innings of the first Test -- but this the umpire ruled in favour of the batsman in the ninth over.
But once Sehwag hit his first boundary there was no stopping him. He broke the shackles with two boundaries off Mathews in the 12th over. He first drove a full delivery through the covers and two deliveries later crashed a short one through midwicket as India reached 39 for no loss after 12 overs.
Sehwag's confidence grew as the two pacers started to tire. He hit two straight boundaries off Mathews in his seventh over to take India to 49 for no loss after 14 overs.
Spin was introduced in the form of Rangana Herath in the 16th over and Gambhir immediately went after him, smashing him for three boundaries. He welcomed Herath by stepping down the wicket and hitting him for a boundary through covers off his first delivery. The left-hander then despatched a short delivery through the off-side for another boundary and finished the over in style, stepping down the wicket and hitting over mid-on for the third boundary of the over.
The openers changed gears quite efficiently in the last few overs -- as 35 runs came off the last five, including seven boundaries, -- as India put up 66 for no loss after 16 overs.
Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis also suffered in his first over (the 18th of the innings) when Sehwag slammed a full toss over midwicket for the first six of the match. He seemed intent on taking on Mendis as he crashed a wide delivery through the cover region for a boundary in the spinner's next over.
Sehwag was looking in ominous touch. While he scored just six off the first 24 deliveries he faced, he took charge once he got going and smashed 38 from the next deliveries, hitting five boundaries and a six.
Gambhir hit his seventh boundary when he stepped down the wicket and drove Muralitharan through the cover region in the 21st over.
Sehwag continued his assault on Mendis as he smashed back-to-back boundaries through midwicket and fine leg to bring up his half-century from 71 deliveries. Those two boundaries also brought up the 100-run partnership for the opening wicket in 21.2 overs. Two deliveries later Gambhir completed his half-century with a double in the cover region off 70 deliveries.
Mendis had a nightmare start to his spell as he went for 28 in his first three overs, with India racing to 107 for no loss after 22.
It was raining boundaries, and even veteran Muralitharan was not being spared, as Sehwag rocked back and hit a boundary through the off-side in the 23rd over.
With the three spinners leaking 63 runs in eight overs between them, Sangakkara was forced to bring back Welegedara in the 25th over to make a breakthrough before the lunch interval.
But though it was the last over before the lunch break, it did not matter to Sehwag as he lofted Mendis and just about cleared the long-on fielder for a six.
At lunch, India were 131 for no loss in 26 overs, having scored at 5 runs per over. The two openers went on the attack once the spinners were introduced. 79 runs came from the last 11 overs, including 73 in nine overs from the three spinners.
Mendis was taken apart by Sehwag -- the opener carting him for 35 from 19 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and two sixes -- and had figures of 42 runs from five overs.
Post-lunch session: (33 overs, 176 runs, 1 wicket)
Gambhir started off the session in style, walking down the wicket to pacer Welegedara and flicking him for a boundary through square leg. Sehwag also started off in similar fashion, cracking a full delivery through the cover region for a boundary off the first delivery he faced after lunch.
The Sri Lankan bowlers' suffering continued, as Sehwag drove Welegedara straight down the ground for his 10th boundary, the third of the over.
In the next over, Gambhir took a double off Muralitharan to bring up the 150-run partnership for the opening wicket in 168 deliveries. He seemed in complete control as he pushed one back past Muralitharan for a boundary, his ninth of the innings, in the 28th over.
Not only were the Indian openers hitting boundaries at will, but they were also positive in the running between the wickets.
Sehwag continued finding the boundaries, as he opened the face of the bat and guided one between the slips and gully region off Welegedara.
The first four overs after the lunch break yielded 38 runs, with five boundaries being hit by both batsmen.
Muralitharan once again struggled as Sehwag thumped him through the covers for his 12th boundary to move to 94 from 90 deliveries.
Sehwag brought up his century, his 16th in Tests, with a paddle sweep to the fine leg region for a boundary against Muralitharan in the 34th over. It took the opener just 97 deliveries to reach the landmark, having scored his last 94 runs off just 73 deliveries, hitting 13 boundaries and two sixes in the process, to give India control.
Even though the field was spread, Sehwag had no problem in finding the boundaries as he took India past 200 with a hat-trick of boundaries against Muralitharan.
Sehwag was enjoying all the luck, as he got an inside edge trying to drive Muralitharan but it just missed the stumps for a boundary. He smashed boundaries off the next two deliveries, through mid-off and covers, to race to 116 from 111 deliveries as Muralitharan's figures read 60 runs conceded from nine overs.
Herath bowled a few quiet overs after lunch before Sehwag decided it was enough and slammed him across the line for consecutive boundaries through midwicket as India progressed to 232 for no loss after 41 overs.
Against the run of play, Sri Lanka struck with the big wicket of Sehwag. The India opener, who hit 18 boundaries and two sixes in his 122-ball knock, perished for 131 when his uppish drive off Muralitharan was taken by Dilshan in the covers, the only fielder on the off-side. (233-1, 41.2)
Gambhir completed his century in style, dancing down the wicket and hitting Herath straight down the ground for a boundary. The left-hander took 132 deliveries to reach his eighth Test century, inclusive of nine boundaries, and followed that up with another boundary courtesy a late cut two deliveries later.
Gambhir has now hit four centuries in his last four Tests, including the 137 against New Zealand at Napier, 167 at Wellington and 114 in the previous against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad.
Even Rahul Dravid, fresh from a century in the last match, took no time to get going and started off with rotating the strike. At the other end, Gambhir took on the onus of hitting when he produced another late cut for a boundary through third man off Herath in the 45th over.
Dravid got his first boundary when he hit a full delivery from Mendis through mid-off in the 46th over of the innings. If they thought Sehwag's wicket would slow down the scoring rate, they were in for a shock as the Indians kept scoring at more than five runs per over.
Part-timer Tillakaratne Dilshan failed to stop the runs and Dravid cut a short delivery through point to bring up the 50-run partnership for the second wicket with Gambhir.
In the next over, Dravid punished a short delivery from Mendis to hit his third boundary and move to 23 in the 52nd over.
With tea approaching, the Indians decided to cut down on their shots and resorted mainly to singles as India went past the 300-run mark in the 58th over.
Before this, the highest total on Day 1 at this ground is 304 and India had already crossed the mark before the tea interval.
At tea, on the opening day, India were cruising at 307 for 1 in 59 overs, with Gambhir unbeaten on 140 from 173 deliveries, and Dravid not out on 32 from 62.
The session again belonged to India; they smashed 176 runs in 33 overs for the loss of just one wicket. The spinners continued to suffer -- they conceded 216 runs in 38 overs at 5.68 per over, with Muralitharan going for 73 for one in 12 overs and Mendis being hit for 65 in 12 overs.
Post-tea session: (31 overs, 110 runs, 1 wickets)
Sri Lanka tried to dry out the runs after tea, as the Indian batsmen dealt mainly in singles, but it was not long before Gambhir went on the attack. The left-hander stepped down to Mendis and lofted him over mid-off for the first boundary of the session, and in the next delivery completed his 150 off 187 deliveries after the fielder's sloppy effort at mid-off allowed him the second run.
Dravid got his first boundary after the break when he pulled a short delivery from Herath through midwicket in the 65th over. The former India captain took India past 350 in the 69th over when he stepped down the wicket and hit Herath over the mid-on fielder for a boundary.
In the next over, Gambhir bisected the gap on the off-side against Muralitharan for his 15th boundary to move to 163. Dravid completed his half-century off 98 deliveries with a sweep shot on the leg side in the 70th over of the innings.
With the flow of runs slowing down after tea, the run rate fell below the five run per over mark after a long time in the innings as India amassed 366 for one after 73 overs at 4.97.
Muralitharan brought Sri Lanka some relief when he claimed the wicket of Gambhir. The batsman was out after a wonderful knock of 167. The left-hander smashed 15 boundaries in his 215-ball knock before he was brilliantly caught and bowled by Muralitharan, diving full length to his right. (370-2, 75.1)
The Dravid-Gambhir partnership for the second wicket yielded 137 runs for India as they inched closer to the 400-run mark on the opening day.
Surprisingly, Sri Lanka continued to employ a defensive field even for new batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who has just one half-century in his previous five innings at Kanpur.
Dravid kept the scoreboard busy with regular singles and on one occasion lifted Murali wide of the mid-on fielder for a boundary in the 78th over.
Tendulkar took a single in the 79th over to take India to 387 for two, the most runs by India on the opening day of a Test. It surpassed the 386 for 1 they put up against South Africa in Chennai in April 2008.
In the previous Test in Ahmedabad, they scored 385 for 6 in 90 overs on the opening day, with Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni registering centuries.
Dravid played Mendis fine on the leg side to bring up India's 400 in 83.4 overs, the first time they breached that mark in a day in Test cricket.
Sri Lanka took the second new ball after 86 overs hoping to pick another wicket in the last few overs before stumps.
Dravid signed off for the day in style with a superb drive through covers for a boundary to finish unbeaten on 85 from 153 deliveries, having hit eight boundaries.
Tendulkar concentrated on playing for stumps for 20 from 53 deliveries, as India closed on 417 for two in 90 overs despite Sri Lanka restricting them to 26 runs in the last ten overs.
For the sixth straight day in a row in the series the batsmen had dominated, while the bowlers suffered. After the dull draw in Ahmedabad, where seven centuries were scored including a double, the second Test also seems heading the same way, with two centuries already scored on the opening day and Dravid closing in on a third.
There was no respite for the bowlers yet again; they all suffered. Muralitharan was the most successful of them with two wickets, but ended up conceding 100 runs in 18 overs. Herath gave away 91 runs in 18 overs and Mendis fared no better with 87 runs in 19 as the Indian batsmen gave a masterclass in dismantling the spinners on a good wicket.
Out of the 417 runs scored, the spinners went for 295 in 58 overs at more than five runs per over. The Indian batsmen were at their brutal best as they hit 41 boundaries and two sixes, scoring nearly 42 per cent of their runs in boundaries, while also rotating the strike well with 159 singles.