Images: Dravid ton saves India from follow on
Rahul Dravid struck a gritty unbeaten 103 but got little support from his teammates as India conceded a mammoth 188-run lead to give England the upper hand on the third day of the first Test at the Lord's on Saturday.
The 38-year-old Dravid notched up his 33rd Test ton and moved to second spot in all time list of Test run getters behind Sachin Tendulkar as India folded up for 286 at the fag end of the third day.
Opener Abhinav Mukund (49), Tendulkar (34) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (28) got the starts but could not translate them into substantial knocks on a track, which provided assistance to fast bowlers.
For the home side, Stuart Broad claimed four for 37 while his pace colleagues Chris Tremlett and James Anderson took three and two wickets respectively. Off-spinner Graeme Swann got one wicket.
England were five for no loss in their second innings at stumps with an overall lead of 193 runs. Captain Andrew Strauss and his opening partner Alastair Cook were batting on three and zero respectively.
Image: Rahul Dravid celebrates after scoring his century against England
Photographs: Getty Images
Dravid was dropped on 42
Dravid's unbeaten ton saved India from the ignominy of being following on but with two full days left in the historic Test, England were firmly on the drivers' seat and they will push for a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
The talk ahead of the Lord's Test centered around Tendulkar's impending 100th international ton, but it was Dravid who stole the show with his resolute batting though he was dropped when on 42.
His unbeaten 103, which came from 220 balls with the help of 15 boundaries, was also his maiden century at the hallowed Lord's after he missed the three digit figure by five runs at the same venue in his debut match in 1996.
Dravid came into bat at the stroke of first drinks interval, the 19th over of the innings, and carried his bat through India's first innings, spending 334 minutes in all at the crease.
Image: Rahul Dravid plays a square cut during his knock against England
Praveen used long handle to good effect
Tailender Praveen Kumar contributed 17 runs of his own in a eighth wicket stand of 35 runs with Dravid, sometimes smashing the ball on the up and on other occasions backing away towards square leg and throwing his bat with gay abandon.
Kumar's luck ran out when Broad was again brought into attack. The tall quick bowlers sent down a sharp bouncer and the reflexive action of Kumar to hit it could only result in a lob for Strauss to run up behind his position at first slip and accept the chance.
Dravid was on 94 then and to partner him, injured Zaheer Khan emerged from the dressing room with runner Kumar in tow.
The excitement was palpable but Dravid made sure the wait for his century was not long. He first caressed a full-pitched Tremlett delivery to cover boundary and then flicked a shot towards widish mid-on for a couple to raise his century.
The end of India's innings though was near as Anderson first cleaned up Zaheer and after a while claimed Ishant Sharma caught behind the wicket to bring a lid on the visiting side's resistance.
Image: Praveen Kumar hits a boundary during his knock against England
India lost three wickets in quick succession
Earlier, Tendulkar failed to notch up his 100th international century at the hallowed Lord's as he fell for 34, three runs short of his highest score at the 'Home of Cricket'.
A hush silence descended in the Indian camp even as the big crowd at the Lord's rose in standing ovation as Tendulkar made his way towards the dressing room.
After Tendulkar's departure, India lost VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina in quick succession and the visitors found themselves on the ropes at 193 for 5 at tea.
In all three wickets fell in the post-lunch session which could have been worse had England accepted two chances in one over, the wickets-on-offer being no less than that of VVS Laxman and Dravid.
Image: Stuart Broad celebrates after picking up Sachin Tendulkar
Broad had just accounted for Tendulkar (34) caught in the second slip when in his next over both Laxman and Dravid were let-off by butter-fingered England slipsmen.
Laxman was on nought when a leg-cutter jumped from a spot and and took the edge of his bat to first slip where Andrew Strauss dropped an absolute sitter.
Five deliveries later, Dravid, then on 42, was drawn to an outswinger and edged it to gully where this time Graeme Swann flung himself to his right but could not hold on to it.
If both chances had been taken, Broad could have had the trinity of Indian batting Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid.
There was no hint of such a dramatic twist in the tale when the pair of Tendulkar and Dravid began the afternoon session in an imperious manner.
Image: Stuart Broad celebrates after picking Gatuam Gambhir
Tendulkar looked in good touch
Tendulkar, in particular, looked in imperious touch, striking the first delivery of the afternoon from James Anderson past slips for four and later flicking him for yet another boundary in the same over.
He then drove Chris Tremlett through covers, rocking on to his backfoot and piercing the offside with an open blade for yet another boundary.
A guided shot past slip off Tremlett gave him his fourth four of the afternoon and the fifth one arrived soon thereafter, another backfoot drive through covers though this time the bowler to suffer was Anderson.
Dravid caught the hint from the other end and himself reeled off a series of fours off his own bat. His first two fours of the afternoon were steers through to third man off Anderson and Tremlett before he helped himself to three fours in one Anderson over.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar plays a shot during his knock against England
Swann snaps Raina
It was not to be as the introduction of Broad changed the entire complexion of the match. Tendulkar was brought forward to a fullish delivery and could only edge a drive into the slips to be dismissed for 34.
Laxman (10) was unable to profit from the grassed chance and flicked Tremlett rather too well to carry it straight to Jonathan Trot at long leg. Graeme Swann then built upon the success by winning a LBW shout against Suresh Raina (0).
Image: Graeme Swann celebrates after picking up Raina