The first 28 runs took 76, the next 22 just 23, and after an early cup of tea at 2 p.m., Sachin Tendulkar looked to be on auto pilot. But just when the fans sank deeper into their chairs, there was a snap sound. Tendulkar c Prior b Anderson 76.
A back-foot punch through the covers by Tendulkar gives you the "Aah! The touch is back" feeling. So it did today until that should-I-or-should-I-not drive off a hostile James Anderson resulted in an edge and into the mitt of a diving Matt Prior. The head went down and the feet changed direction towards the dressing room.
The day that began with three-quarters empty Eden Gardens had more buzz by evening in anticipation of a Tendulkar hundred, after the initial grind started taking shape of dominance by tea with Tendulkar on 46*.
The day that began with three-quarters empty Eden Gardens had more buzz by evening in anticipation of a Tendulkar hundred.
It was a composed innings but important in two contexts - rescuing India from a dodgy 136 for 4 and getting the lost confidence back for Tendulkar himself. The composure was evident in the 99 balls he took to reach fifty - Tendulkar's first since the Sydney Test.
But Tendulkar began like a batsman out of sorts. Nervous prods and edges falling short kept everyone on tenterhooks - until that back-foot punch settled nerves. And relief was writ large on the face when that clip off Steven Finn crossed the boundary to bring up his 66th half-century.
With Yuvraj Singh, Tendulkar's level of comfort grew. But Yuvraj frittered away his good start to a soft dismissal against Graeme Swann. A vital partnership broken, Alastair Cook asked Anderson to go after Tendulkar, and he responded by nailing the big fish.
At 76 and 16 overs left in the day, Tendulkar, it seems, got caught between aggression and caution. He has always been better off with the former option, but when iffy, some scratch their head, some bite nails and some edge deliveries. Tendulkar's fate lay in an edge.
But cricket is not just about hundreds. Tendulkar's 76 and Gautam Gambhir's 60 could prove vital in the context of this match. But for Tendulkar it means a bit more, for it tells that the master is not done yet.