Bikash Mohapatra reports from Lord's on the third day's play in the first Test.
A trademark innings by Rahul Dravid helped India do just enough to ensure England bat for a second time in the opening Test at Lord's on Saturday.
Chasing the home team's formidable first innings score (474-8 declared), the visitors put up 286 in reply. That gave England a sizeable first innings lead of 188.
At stumps on day three, the hosts were five without loss, their overall lead 193.
With most of their top batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar included, flattering to deceive on a classic Lord's wicket, it was left to the redoubtable Dravid to yet again shoulder the batting responsibility for India.
His magnificent 103 not out was yet another example of the fortitude, patience and resilience. The 220-ball knock was inclusive of 15 hits to the fence.
Dravid's effort ensured India avoided the follow-on by a whisker. And, in the broader context, it sort of ensured the match had been saved.
In the process, the 38-year-old registered his first hundred at the 'Home of Cricket'. The innings was of special significance for Dravid, considering he made his Test debut at the venue in 1996 and missed out on a hundred in the same match by just five runs.
On Saturday, though, the veteran ensured he would not regret that miss, scoring what was his 33rd career hundred. It was also his seventh hundred against England, the most he has scored against any nation.
Put down by Graeme Swann (off Stuart Broad) when on 42, Dravid made the most of the reprieve to reach what can be termed a personal landmark.
Besides, when he was on 50 during the innings, Dravid (12,417) became the second highest scorer in Test cricket, surpassing Ricky Ponting (12,363 runs). Only Tendulkar has scored more runs (14,726).
The 38-year-old achieved the feat in his 154th Test.
Broad was the most successful England bowler with figures of four for 37. Chris Tremlett and James Anderson chipped in with three and two wickets respectively.
Morning session (85 runs, 26 overs, two wickets):
Resuming at their overnight score of 17 without loss, Gautam Gambhir (15) and Abhinav Mukund applied caution at the outset.
It took 19 balls before there was an addition to the scoreboard. Mukund, in particular, had a tough time facing the shorter stuff dished out by Tremlett.
The pair, nonetheless, survived and put on a healthy 63-run stand for the opening wicket.
A change of bowling though did the trick for the home team. Broad, brought in to replace Anderson, struck in his third over -- a fuller length delivery rattling Gambhir's stumps.
It took Dravid 14 balls to open his account. But he did so with an exquisite drive off Anderson through cover.
Mukund, eager to complete his half-century, went for a wide delivery, only to drag it back on to the stumps.
Dravid and Tendulkar then combined well, resisting some accurate bowling, particularly from Tremlett. A boundary through covers by Dravid off Broad helped India reach the 100-run mark.
Post-lunch session (91 runs, 30 overs, three wickets):
The two Indian veterans started the second session on a positive note.
Tendulkar hit a slew of boundaries to begin with, and Dravid soon joined him. Three boundaries (in four balls) in Anderson's 16th over ensured India reached the 150-run mark in quick time.
Strauss responded by substituting Anderson with a Swann. The spinner did manage to tie things down.
Tremlett, on the other hand, had Tendulkar in all sorts of trouble. It was a surprise, therefore, when Strauss replaced the bowler with Broad.
Also surprising was the fact that Broad was brought back from the Nursery End -- when he had taken both his wickets from the Pavilion End -- to replace Tremlett (16-4-51-0).
It didn't matter though. Broad struck with his fourth ball, having Tendulkar (34) caught by Swann at third slip.
The Master Blaster's poor record at the Lord's continued -- his highest score remains 37.
It was Broad's third wicket of the innings. He could have got two more wickets in his next over had it not been for two dropped catches.
VVS Laxman was fortunate to survive when he was yet to open his account, as Strauss dropped a sitter at first slip.
Five balls later, Swann put down Dravid (then on 42) at third slip (where he had caught Tendulkar). It was a difficult chance though.
Broad was twice unlucky in what was his 10th over, and his team too missed out on two vital breakthroughs. .
Soon after, a boundary over midwicket off Swann helped Dravid record his 61st Test fifty, his ninth against England.
More importantly, the shot made him the second highest scorer in Test cricket, surpassing Ricky Ponting (12,363 runs). Only Tendulkar has scored more runs (14,726).
The 38-year-old achieved the feat in his 154th Test.
Tremlett was brought back in the 56th over and he struck with the fifth ball, having Laxman (10) caught by Trott at deep backward square.
Three balls later, Swann trapped Suresh Raina (0) leg before.
India were reduced to 183 for five after 58 overs.
Dravid and Dhoni ensured there was no further damage before tea.
Post-tea session (98 runs, 38.5 overs, five wickets):
Dravid and Dhoni (28) applied caution in the final session.
The idea was simple -- avoid the follow-on first and then set further targets. In any case, with five wickets down, India could ill-afford to lose either of the two at that stage.
The new ball was taken in the 81st over. And it delivered instant results for the home team.
In the fourth over with the new ball, Tremlett made a double breakthrough. The hardworking bowler first had Dhoni caught by Swann at slips. Two balls later he had Harbhajan Singh (0) caught behind.
Dhoni's dismissal ended a 57-run sixth-wicket partnership with Dravid and exposed the Indian tail.
Harbhajan's dismissal left India in a spot of bother, with just three wickets left and 34 runs to avoid the follow-on.
However, the next three overs proved productive for India, with 31 coming off them, Praveen Kumar (17) playing the long handle to good effect.
Kumar's charge forced Strauss to bring back Broad to replace an off-colour Anderson (21-5-86-0) in the 89th over. A single by Kumar off the first ball helped India avoid the follow-on.
But Broad struck with his final ball, having Kumar caught by Strauss with a sharp bouncer. It was Broad's fourth wicket of the day.
Dravid completed a much-deserved hundred soon after, but Zaheer Khan, having come in to bat with a runner, was cleaned up by Anderson before he could trouble the scorers.
Ishant Sharma (0) survived 12 balls before Anderson had him caught behind to end the Indian innings.
The England openers survived the five overs bowled. Andrew Strauss was unbeaten on three and Alastair Cook yet to open his account.