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 farewell 200th Test against the West Indies after a disciplined bowling display, at the Wankhede stadium, in Mumbai, on Thursday.
The 40-year-old batting icon walked in to the middle amid thunderous applause from the crowd, and a guard of honour from the West Indies team, and immediately showed glimpses of his old class to remain unconquered at close of an eventful opening day in the second Test of the series.
At stumps, India were comfortably placed at 157 for 2, after bundling out the 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 centre stage in the last session, with his entire family and childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar watching from the stands.
Earlier, the West Indies produced abysmal batting after being put in to bat by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. They lost eight wickets for just 89 runs in a single session much to the delight of the Wankhede crowd.
Kieran Powell (48) and Darren Bravo (29) were the only batsmen to put up a semblance of fight against the stifling line and length of the Indian bowlers, who utilised the conditions well.
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, are just 25 runs behind the West Indies at close of play, raising doubts whether the match will go the distance.
Call it a picture of confidence or an epitome of concentration, Tendulkar was everything during his undefeated stay at the crease during which he faced 73 balls and hit six boundaries.
Not only did he look in control, but also helped Pujara (34 batting) gain in confidence as they added 80 runs in an unbroken third wicket stand.
At exactly 3:33 pm, India's most loved sportsman walked down the staircase of the pavilion to the deafening applause from the near-packed Wankhede stadium with spectators on their feet after the fall of Vijay's wicket to welcome the legendary player.
He acknowledged the 'Guard of Honour' from the West Indian cricketers, shook hands with rival captain Darren Sammy and umpire Nigel Llong and did what no one ever saw him do during a match.
He touched the 22-yard strip which has given him everything and sought its blessings, as mother Rajni Tendulkar, immediate family members and Achrekar watched from President's Box.
A mistimed slog sweep got him off the mark and when Shillingford offered width, he rocked back to cut it past point for a boundary. Shillingford tried a doosra but Tendulkar read it early to hit that signature cover drive to reach 12.
As the burly 6'10 Shanon Gabriel provided width, out came another killer cover drive to roll back those years. When Shillingford bowled a good flighted off-break, he presented full face to play the copybook forward defensive stroke that he may have learnt at Achrekar's cradle some 30 years back.
Tendulkar and Pujara took singles to bring up another 50-run partnership. Marlon Samuels, bowling his fast off-breaks fired one down the leg side, and a neat leg-glance brought about the fourth boundary.
The best was saved for the end when he showed the full face of the bat hitting a copybook on-drive of Sammy's bowling.
Earlier, the 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 the post-lunch session.
Ojha, who was a bit unlucky in the first Test, was pick of the 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 Bhuvneshwar 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.
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 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 question mark 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.
Image: Pragyan Ojha, with five wickets for 40 runs, grabbed the spotlight in the first half of the day.