Had India asked the Gods of cricket to script a perfect day, they would not have been able to better this. Wasim Jaffer completed a double-hundred, VVS Laxman added a dainty hundred and above all, the prince of Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly hit his first hundred in front of a rapt home crowd as India declared on 616 for 5.
Then, in the hour available to their bowlers, they picked off an opener; Pakistan ended on 50 for 1, still a whole galaxy of runs behind. Escape is possible, but with every ball, every run, every over, every boundary that has passed over two days, their spirits have sapped further.
No such problems for Ganguly, to whom this day belonged. His hundred was a significant one: his first against Pakistan, his first at Eden Gardens, and most importantly his first in four years almost to the day against major opposition. It was further proof, if needed, that he has been among India's best batsmen since his return from forced exile. At least one Australian in Rajasthan might wince at a Test record since then that now shows four fifties and two hundreds in ten Tests.
It seemed inevitable from the moment he arrived yesterday, though undoubtedly it helped that the moment was 313 for 3. He was tested briefly this morning and straight after lunch, unimaginatively, with the short ball. He weathered most of it, though lucky to survive a ferocious bouncer from Shoaib Akhtar just after lunch when on 63, Yasir Hameed failing to hold on to a difficult chance at gully.
That apart, Ganguly was by turns regal and cussed. He drove well in front of square - a sure sign that the touch is good - never more than when caressing Mohammad Sami past wide mid-off early this morning. To move in to the nineties, just before mid-day drinks, he bettered it, with what was a mere push, off the same bowler.