Architect of India's brilliant turnaround in the first Test against Sri Lanka, Rahul Dravid on Monday described his elegant unbeaten knock of 177 as one of his most fluent efforts in recent times.
"It's one of my most fluent efforts in the last two-three years. My feet was moving well and I felt I was in control," said the 36-year-old Bangalore stalwart after returning unbeaten to the dressing room.
The hosts were reeling at 32 for four before Dravid's 27th Test hundred, studded with 26 fours and a six, lifted them from a morass and placed them at a sound 385 for six at the close.
Dravid said when the team stuttered after losing four quick wickets, the rout for 76 against South Africa in April 2008 was at the back of the mind when he started his repair work in the company of Yuvraj Singh (68).
"When we were 32 for four, the collapse for 76 against South Africa was at the back of our minds. But we knew it was just a question of having some partnerships going, hang in there till lunch and that's what we did," he said.
"The partnership with Yuvraj steadied the innings in the first session, we consolidated in the second and then with Mahi (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) the partnership set it up. Both are attacking players and we knew if they can bat for 150-160 balls then 100 runs would be scored," Dravid said.
Dravid first put the innings on an even keel with a stand of 125 with Yuvraj for the fifth wicket and then increased the tempo with a belligerent partnership of 224 in 306 balls with skipper Dhoni (110) who too notched up a hundred.
The end-of-the day total was one short of the record 386 piled up by India against South Africa in 2007-08 season.
The one-down stalwart said that the pace at which India had scored the runs would come handy when they press for a win.
Dravid said that the wicket was a bit sticky initially and the Lanka bowlers utilised it well.
"It happens. The first day of the Test and there was some movement. The Lankans bowled well. It was a good toss to win though we lost four quick wickets. It became a very good wicket to bat on after an hour and a half," he said.
Dravid, who completed 11,000 runs and shot past Steve Waugh of Australia in the leading run-getters' list, said the aim now was to pile on 500-plus runs.
"We have to score 500-plus runs. The wicket looks as if it will not do much till the fourth day. Then it should help our spinners and our fast bowlers to reverse the ball. But I had played a match against New Zealand (1998-99) here that was drawn and nothing happened even on the fifth day," he said.
Dravid said his stints in Ranji Trophy helped as it gave him the requisite confidence ahead of the match.
"Time in the middle always helps. I had a couple of games against UP and Delhi and was pretty confident going into this match," he said.
Dravid was surprised at the Lankans' decision to ignore Ajantha Mendis in favour of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.
"It was a big of a surprise. He (Mendis) has been a bit successful against us. But Herath is the man in form and has bowled well (against New Zealand and Pakistan) and we have learned a few things on how to play Mendis over the last year or so," he said. PTI