Sachin Tendulkar fell six runs short of a 100th international century but was upstaged by Ravichandran Ashwin's maiden triple-figure score on day four of the third and final Test between India and the West Indies in Mumbai.
Tendulkar's dismissal for 94 saw India slip to 322 for five replying to the West Indies' 590 but Ashwin's stroke-filled 103 cleared India of any danger of following on and they were eventually bowled out for 482 - a deficit of 108.
The West Indies then lost the wickets of Adrian Barath for three and Kirk Edwards for 17 to close on 81 for two - a lead of 185 heading into the final day.
They might have lost Darren Bravo in the final over of the day bowled by - who else - Tendulkar but Virat Kohli was unable to grasp his firm push at short leg.
VVS Laxman (32) was the first man to be dismissed in the morning session when he slashed at Fidel Edwards and was caught by Marlon Samuels.
Tendulkar was not looking in the mood to be shifted, however, unfurling graceful cover drives and cutting with impunity. Without doubt the hunger for the century was there and until he sliced Ravi Rampaul to Darren Sammy at second slip he looked as if it was only a matter of time until he registered it.
It was not to be and as Sammy held a fine catch to a ball that flew off Tendulkar's blade the ground fell eerily silent, a collective gasp of disbelief replacing the frenzied excitement that had greeted his every move previously.
It was comprehensively the West Indies' session when Sammy snuck one through Mahendra Singh Dhoni's defences - for the second time in the series - to send the Indian captain's stumps splattering after he had made just eight.
After lunch, it was the Kohli-Ashwin double act that propelled India out of danger as Kohli played watchfully on the way to his first Test half-century, almost certainly mindful that his place on the plane to Australia might well be dependent on this one innings.
It was a solid one, and one his team needed but he played a poor stroke to get out, trying to take on Devendra Bishoo by hitting him over the top but failing to get anywhere near the required elevation and sending the ball straight to Edwards at mid on after making 52 in 111 balls.
Ashwin played with the authority and grace of a top-order batsman rather than a number eight as he struck eight fours and two sixes to follow up his five-wicket haul in the first innings in outstanding style.
He was particularly strong through the off side and through third man and he became the third Indian to score a century and take five wickets in a Test match with another boundary through third man.
Immediately afterwards he was out, caught by Barath off Rampaul as he hit a pull shot straight up into the air but having been left with Pragyan Ojha (0 not out) following the cheap dismissals of Ishant Sharma (5) and Varun Aaron (4) he was due no criticism for that.
Rampaul finished with figures of three for 95, Samuels took three for 74 and Sammy two for 90. In among the glory of Tendulkar's near-miss and Ashwin's brilliance, the bowlers put in a sterling effort on a lifeless pitch to ensure a first-innings lead.
Dhoni then asked Ojha to open th ebowling alongside Sharma and the left-armer struck quickly to have Barath well caught b a diving VVS Laxman at short cover for three.
Kirk Edwards boomed three boundaries before he took on Ojha one time too many and was stumped by Dhoni for 17 in 24 balls.
The West Indian ship was then steadied by Kraigg Brathwaite, unbeaten n 34, whose unorthodox method of playing spin, crouched low and with bat well in front of pad, had India excited on occasions as bat-pad chances almost materialised, and Darren Bravo, on 27, who looked as solid as he did during his first-innings of 166 aside from the momentay lapse of concentration that offered Kohli the sharpest of chances.
© Cricket World 2011
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