Shillingford West Indies
West Indies spinner Shane Shillingford celebrates with teammates after dismissing India opener Murali Vijay. BCCI Official Website
India batsman Rohit Sharma celebrates reaching his half-century in the first Test against the West Indies. BCCI
India batsman Rohit Sharma celebrates reaching his half-century in the first Test against the West Indies. BCCI

Rohit Sharma is a man reborn, a man that seems to treat the grim reaper called pressure with utter disdain, and carve out one brilliant innings after another.

On his Test debut, with India's backs very much planted to the walls, Sharma was calm, cool and collected, rising above all the havoc created by Shane Shillingford to pull India to a position of comfort against the West Indies.

In the wonderful batting journey along with Sharma was R Ashwin, who made batting look more enjoyable than eating ice cream on a hot and humid day, as the duo put on a quite stunning 198 together.

India were staring at the abyss, when Virat Kohli walked back with India on 83 for five, but Sharma belied his experience in the toughest level of them all in cricket - Tests - and, first with MS Dhoni, and then Ashwin, pulled India out of seriously troubled waters.

India finished the second day of the first Test at the Eden Gardens on 354 for six, to lead the West Indies by runs 120 runs, with Sharma batting on 127 (228b, 16x4, 1x6) and Ashwin (92, 148b, 10x4) not too far behind.

Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar saw his opportunity to make an innings of note cruelly brought to premature end, with Shillingford (four for 130), courtesy a brilliant spell of bowling, bringing India's top-order batsmen to their knees in the first session.

The moment that the entire nation was waiting for came about when Tendulkar walked out a little after half an hour of the second day's play in the first Test at the Eden Gardens, but a poor lbw decision from umpire Nigel Llong cut short his innings at just 10.

Starting the day from an overnight score of 37 for no loss, the onus was on Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay to give India a good start on the second day and relieve the pressure on the rest of the Indian batsmen; but what they were not prepared for was a terrific spell of attacking off-spin bowling from Shillingford, who caused trouble to pretty much every single Indian batsman.

Dhawan (23, 34b, 4x4) was the first to go, inside edging one onto his stumps off Shillingford in just the third over of the day.

West Indies spinner Shane Shillingford celebrates with teammates after dismissing India opener Murali Vijay. BCCI Official Website
West Indies spinner Shane Shillingford celebrates with teammates after dismissing India opener Murali Vijay. BCCI Official Website

No batsman was picking Shillingford's variations, particularly the Doosra, which if not exactly going the other way, did straighten quite tellingly.

Soon, after some sustained pressure, Shillingford had his second wicket, completely bamboozling Vijay (26, 75b, 2x4), who missed the ball completely while coming down the pitch, leaving Denesh Ramdin with the simple task of whipping off the bails.

That wicket was followed by a humongous cheer, as it meant the man that everyone wants to see was about to walk into the crease.

Tendulkar began confidently enough, taking a couple of boundaries off Shillingford through the leg side and looking in good touch.

Cheteshwar Pujara's wicket at the other end, a toe-edge off Sheldon Cottrell to Ramdin while trying to help a short ball along, did not help Tendulkar, who seemed to decide to block rather than hit, despite a strong start.

Shillingford, keeping the pressure up remarkably, finally did get the big scalp, as Tendulkar played around another delivery that went straight, with the ball striking his back leg.

Long raised that dreaded finger for lbw, with replays clearly showing the ball would have gone well over the stumps. However, with no DRS, Tendulkar was forced to walk off the field having made just 10 runs from 24 deliveries.

It was now down to India's two young batting stars Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to pull India out of troubled waters, which at that time read 82 for four.

However, a run later, Kohli (3) was also sent packing by the unstoppable Shillingford, with Llong giving the Indian batsman out bat-pad at short leg. Kohli did not look too happy with the decision, but walk back in a huff he had to.

The situation was tailor-made for someone like Dhoni, who took the attack to the West Indian bowlers, as Sharma at the other end, slowly but surely, grew in confidence, taking India to 120 for five at Lunch.

Dhoni and Sharma kept the momentum in the post-Lunch session, as their partnership grew, with the latter growing in stature with it.

Those elegant shots through the covers were now in full view as the West Indies struggled to keep a leash on the debutant.

Dhoni (42, 63b, 5x4), looking unbeatable and nullifying the threat of Shillingford nicely, threw his wicket away an hour into the second session, fishing outside off to a full delivery from Tino Best and edging one straight to Ramdin - the change of ball again helping the bowling side, with the wicket coming off the first delivery after the replacement.

R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma put on a terrific partnership against the West Indies. BCCI
R Ashwin and Rohit Sharma put on a terrific partnership against the West Indies. BCCI

However, with Sharma, who allied for 73 runs with Dhoni, looking good and assured at one end, and Ashwin, a seriously underrated Test match batsman, at the other, India looked quite comfortable, picking off boundaries at will and cutting down the deficit with every passing over, when at one point a lead of near 100 for the West Indies was not entirely inconceivable.

India glided into the lead soon in the final session as Ashwin and Sharma just broke the backs of the Windies bowlers. The second new ball was taken, but made little difference, with both batsmen looking as comfortable as a teenager on a PS3.

Sharma reached that landmark that everyone aspires to - the century - with a streaky boundary through the slips, but asserted his authority immediately after courtesy a patented cover drive.

Ashwin's importance in the unbeaten partnership of 198 runs cannot be overstated as the India off-spinner showed as much, if not more, control and poise than any top order batsman.

As the sun slowly set in Kolkata, the Indian duo went about sinking West Indies' chances in the Test with a batting masterclass, and the promise of plenty more to come on the third day.