Rahul Dravid slammed a fluent 119 to put India in command before the West Indies snapped up two quick wickets at the fag end of the day to recover marginally in the second Test at the Eden Gardens, in Kolkata, on Monday.
Opting to bat, Dravid and VVS Laxman (73 batting) continued their love affair with the Eden track, their 140-run partnership putting India on a strong 346 for 5 at close on the opening day.
On a day that saw Sachin Tendulkar miss out yet again on the 100th international century milestone, dismissed for 38, Dravid held centrestage, notching his 36th Test hundred, his fifth in 2011.
The fourth-wicket partnership was broken by part-timer Kraigg Brathwaite, who claimed his maiden Test wicket in the form of Dravid, who played one on to his stumps.
Laxman was unbeaten on 73 from 116 balls, inclusive of five fours, as the day's play was called off early because of bad light, with 2.3 overs remaining.
Dravid brought up his century by guiding a Kemar Roach delivery to fine leg for a boundary.
The second leading Test scorer, behind Tendulkar, attained the mark off 179 deliveries, inclusive of nine boundaries and a six. It was his fifth century against the West Indies.
But Dravid missed the 13,000 Test runs milestone by just 21 runs when he gifted five-Test-old part-time off-spinner Brathwaite an easy wicket, playing an inside edge to the stumps.
Night-watchman Ishant Sharma was out for a duck in a first-ball dismissal.
He may be lying low on 12 in the ICC rankings ladder, but Dravid again showed why he is called one of the finest No 3 batsmen in an innings of great composure. He came in when India were cruising in Twenty20 fashion, with 66 in 12 overs.
The 38-year-old tried to match the run-rate after Virender Sehwag's cheap dismissal, for 38, scoring 33 from 51 balls in the first session.
In the post-lunch session, after Gautam Gambhir's departure, the focus obviously shifted to Tendulkar and his impending 100th International century.
Dravid then slowly built upon his innings with all eyes on Tendulkar; the Bangalorean was at his defiant best, scoring 29 from 77 balls in the second session.
In the fruitful last session, he scored 57 from 79 balls, which also included two sixes.
He clubbed Bishoo over long off to decimate the little reign the leg spinner had after taking Tendulkar's wicket, while his second over-boundary came off part-time off-spinner Marlon Samuels, over long-on.
Tendulkar came and went, but Dravid again stood like a wall and grew in stature when VVS Laxman joined him in the middle.
A little more than a decade ago, the duo had shared an epic 376-run partnership that saw India bounce back after being made to follow-on for a 171-run win over Australia.
Laxman's 281 and Dravid's 180 are still part of cricketing folklore, and the duo showed glimpses of that knock.
Laxman brought up his 56th half-century with a typical wristy whip towards square leg as the West Indian attack got little help from the Eden strip.
India had a blazing opening session, courtesy the usual flair of Sehwag, who raced away to 38 from 33 balls, with eight fours, as the West Indian bowlers were at the receiving end.
All the wickets that fell during the day were not because of any bowling brilliance but freak dismissals, Tendulkar's being the most disappointing one.
On a batting beauty, Tendulkar looked fluent, milking the inexperienced West Indian bowlers at ease as he hit five boundaries in his 71-ball knock.
The crowd also started filling up the empty Eden Gardens with Tendulkar looking in fine touch for the milestone.
But it was West Indian leg spinner Devendra Bishoo who once again claimed the prized scalp just when he and Dravid were looking to make it big in their 56-run partnership.
Tendulkar could only manage to pull directly to Marlon Samuels at midwicket from a short Bishoo delivery in what appeared a very easy dismissal in the end, the last ball of the 52nd over.
Tendulkar was looking good in the second innings of the opening Test in Delhi, only to be dismissed leg before by the same West Indian leg-spinner.
The senior batsman, who last scored a century in a World Cup match against South Africa eight months ago, has remained one shy of the 100th milestone from 12 Test and four ODI innings.
Earlier Gambhir, cracked his 17th Test half-century but failed to make it big as he fell four overs after lunch.
It was another ordinary ball that yielded in a wicket when Edwards took the wicket after Gambhir drove straight to short cover where Barath took an easy catch.
Gambhir made 65 from 103 balls with eight boundaries.
Sehwag was hit on the back of the helmet early into his innings but he seemed unaffected blazing away to 38 from 33 balls with eight boundaries as he along with the left-hander Gambhir put on 66 for the opening wicket.
India did not panic after Sehwag's freak dismissal as Gambhir and Dravid put on 83 runs for the second wicket before the left-hander was dismissed four overs after lunch.